February 26, 2015
Athens of the North
Adam Smith, David Hume, Sean Connery, J.K. Rowling and Alexander Graham Bell are but a few of the world-shaping figures who have called Edinburgh home. The breadth and depth of talent produced by this small city in Scotland undeniably owes something to its unique character.
Going back to Neolithic times people have lived on the crag that dominates Edinburgh, the crag that is now itself dominated by the castle. Until the early 19th Century a small loch on the north side of the crag prevented the city's further expansion, meaning things became very cramped within the city walls. People from every social class mingled in gigantic tenemtents that may have towered fifteen stories. Sometimes these are called the world's first skyscrapers. This close mingling of the orders promoted an egalitarian spirit that caused men and women to fearlessly probe difficult social questions, while the challenging geography necessitated an ingenuity in engineering beyond that of other cities.
Grassmarket in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.
An engraving by John Clark looking towards the Old Town from Princes Street. Obviously a lot has changed in the last 201 years. At the time of the engraving Nor Loch had only been partially drained, though the Northern Bridge had been built. Today this is where Waverely Station sits.
Another view of the Old Town from posh Princes Street. The tall solidly built structure on the right is the City Hall Chambers.
Looking down George Street we see St. Andrew's Church, completed in 1784. The column in the distance is the Grand Melville Monument built in honour of Henry Dundas, the Viscount Melville. He was often called 'the uncrowned King of Scotland' for all the power he had amassed during his stint in government. It's no surprise then that his statue looks down upon George Street, which was named for his sovereign, George III. The column hasn't moved, by the way, I just got the perspective slightly off.
A cabinetmaker and undertaker's business on Chambers Street. Shortly after this photo was taken all the buildings in this area were demolished and redeveloped into what would become the National Museum of Scotland.
A view of Scott Monument and Princes Street at a much less busy time.
A statue of William Pitt the Younger features prominently on George Street, Edinburgh's most prestigious shopping street.
Bakehouse Close on the Royal Mile. The gate dates to 1570.
Canongate Tolbooth on the Royal Mile. This odd structure was constructed in 1591 and served as a tollbooth, council house, courtroom and jail.
A view of Edinburgh Castle from near the Ramsay Gardens. Most of the gardens were developed in the 1890s into the distinctive Ramsay Garden apartment block which can be seen from Princes Street.
The pubs, shops and homes of Picardy Place.
Crowds turn out to watch British sailors parade down Princes Street during Allies Week in 1942. The photo was taken from the entrance to the Scottish National Gallery looking east towards the Scott Monument.
Newhaven's Marine Hotel on Starbank Road. You can see people riding on the roof of a two level carriage.
New Lane in Newhaven. Some of the homes have since been rebuilt, to be a bit larger and the street a bit less cramped.
Junction Bridge in Leith just after it was widened.
Trams on Princes Street. These double decker trams ran from 1871 but were phased out in 1956. A proposal to build a new tram system in Edinburgh was adopted in 2008 and the new system finally completed in May 2014.
The C & A Modes department store burning furiously. As you can see the building didn't survive the fire.
The view looking down Advocate's Close just off the Royal Mile. The Scott Monument is visible. Advocate's Close is named for Sir James Stewart of Goodtrees, the last Advocate of Scotland before the Act of Union in 1707.
Cockburn Street (pronounced Co-Burn), designed to quickly connect the Royal Mile with Waverly Station in 1856 when it was cut through the labyrinth of Medieval closes in the area. On the right you can see the rear of the City Chambers which reaches 12 stories in height, impressive for the 18th Century.
This painting was made from the perspective of Vennel Lane off Grassmarket. Some buildings at the foot of the castle have since been cleared while those on the left have been replaced.