The crowd still flows over London Bridge and down King William Street to the corner of Lombard Street where St Mary Woolnoth stands. Were Eliot to stand on the steps of the Royal Exchange in August 2014, the vista would not be that different from a century earlier, and even though the horse-drawn omnibus has been replaced by the Routemaster double-decker, the traffic would not move much more quickly. The great poet, a fearful snob, would be thankful not to be able to see from his standpoint the former NatWest Tower, the Gherkin, the Shard or any of the other vulgar expressions of the City’s self-confidence, but he might notice in front of the statue of the duke of Wellington at the foot of the Royal Exchange’s steps the war memorial to those who died in the Great War. The only obvious sign that 100 years has come and gone is the postmodern building plonked at the end of Cheapside by the architect Sir James Stirling after a planning battle in the 1980s. Not a patch on Nicholas Hawksmoor’s St Mary Woolnoth, Eliot might well think.
KeywordsGross Domestic Product Housing Market Public Spending Private Equity European Monetary Union
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