George Street

George Street

George Street, Edinburgh

The history of George Street

When the New Town was first planned in 1767 what is now called George Street was titled simply ‘the principal street’, deliberately positioned on top of a ridge so as to be the most prominent part of the new development. The intention was to create terraces of elegant townhouses to attract the wealthy back to the city. However, initially planning regulations were fairly lax, and some criticised it as being monotonous. At least one observer thought that it was: “…so wide in proportion to the height of the buildings, that in the declining line of perspective they appear like barracks.”

The early residents were professionals, attracted by the space and light in comparison to the Old Town.

Cultural significance

During the Victorian period George Street slowly became a place for shopping. On the ground floors of many buildings, dining rooms and libraries gave way to showrooms. In some places properties were extended at the back with long top-lit rooms, to show off products in more spacious and opulent surroundings.

The street also became associated with banking, which has left a legacy of some very grand architecture.

Why is it important to Edinburgh?

George Street is the crown jewel of Edinburgh’s New Town, linking St Andrew Square to Charlotte Square. It serves as a focal point for high-end shopping, dining, and entertainment, complementing the city’s historic and cultural attractions.

Key features:

Architectural Splendour: George Street’s Georgian architecture showcases the grandeur of the 18th century. Its symmetrical facades and elegant proportions create a captivating urban landscape.

Upscale Boutiques: The street is home to an array of high-end boutiques, offering designer fashion, luxury goods, and exquisite jewellery. It’s a paradise for discerning shoppers.

Gourmet Delights: George Street boasts a selection of upscale restaurants, bistros, and bars. From fine dining to chic eateries, it caters to those seeking refined culinary experiences.

Key events

George Street witnessed a momentous event in 1822 when it served as the backdrop for the Assembly Rooms’ grand ball in honour of King George IV’s visit. The ball was a glittering affair, attended by Edinburgh’s elite and aristocracy. The event not only celebrated the monarch’s visit but also showcased the elegance and sophistication for which George Street and the New Town were renowned.

Additional information

George Street was established in the late 18th century as part of James Craig’s visionary plan for the New Town.
George Street’s harmonious Georgian architecture, combined with its role as a hub of upscale commerce and dining, sets it apart.
George Street graces the heart of Edinburgh’s New Town, extending from St. Andrew Square to Charlotte Square.

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