Princes Street

Princes Street

Princes Street is one of the major thoroughfares in central Edinburgh, Scotland, and its main shopping street. It is the southernmost street of Edinburgh's New Town, stretching around 1 mile (1.6 km) from Lothian Road in the west to Leith Street in the east. The street is mostly closed to private cars, with public transport given priority. The street has virtually no buildings on the south side, allowing views of the Old Town, Edinburgh Castle, and the valley between.


Princes Street was originally to be named St. Giles Street after the patron saint of the City of Edinburgh. However, King George III knew of a slum neighbourhood called St. Giles in London and objected. It was subsequently named Princes Street after his sons, the Duke of Rothesay (later King George IV) and Frederick, Duke of York.

During the construction of the New Town, the polluted waters of the Nor Loch were drained, and the area was converted into public gardens called Princes Street Gardens. The gardens are one of the many green spaces in the heart of Edinburgh.

The wider George Street (parallel to Princes Street) was originally intended to be the main commercial street and major thoroughfare, but its neighbour to the south overtook due to its breathtaking views over the Gardens and to the Old Town.


Several UK high street brands are located along Princes Street. Bhs, Debenhams, House of Fraser and Marks & Spencer department stores can be found at the west end. Jenners department store was an Edinburgh institution, surviving the disappearance of many other local department stores, such as PTs and RW Forsyths. The 2005 purchase of Jenners by House of Fraser removed its independent status, although there are no current public plans to integrate Jenners into the House of Fraser chain.Fact|date=November 2007

There has been controversy over buildings from the later half of the 20th century on Princes Street [cite news|last=Cumming|first=Jason|title=Princes Street needs a dentist|date=Fri 19 Sep 2003|publisher=Edinburgh Evening News|url=] . This has prompted plans to demolish the Bhs and the Marks & Spencer buildings, in an effort to improve the status of the street [cite news|last=Halstead|first=Sam|title=Princes Street shops set to be demolished|date=Fri 5 Nov 2004|publisher=Edinburgh Evening News|url=] . Another problem has been that upper floors are often used for storage, rather than as office, retail or living space. At an early stage in post-World War II designs for the street, a "high level walkway" was planned, as a further shopping frontage for the first floor level, in lieu of the other side of the street. However the walkway as built was never more than a number of isolated balconies and in practice the Royal Bank of Scotland was the only business to maintain a frontage at this level for any length of time; that branch of the bank closed early in the 21st century, leaving the upper walkway largely forgotten.

Princes Street Gardens and south side

The Gardens contain the Ross Bandstand (an amphitheatre), a war memorial and a floral clock, together with other attractions. Two of the National Galleries, the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery of Scotland, are located at the foot of The Mound. Further along is the Scott Monument, an intricate building dedicated to the Scotsman who wrote the Waverley Novels, after which is named Waverley station, built for the North British Railway. Next to the station is the grand "North British Hotel", latterly renamed the Balmoral Hotel, and the impressive Regent Bridge. The hotel has a counterpart, the Caledonian Hotel, just south of the west end of the street; this was built by the Caledonian Railway for their Princes Street Station, now closed.

Princes Street remains popular, although it has now fallen from its status as the most expensive place to rent shop space in Britain outside London [ [ Main Streets Across the World 2004] ] . Princes Street may be one of the few streets in the UK to have an order of Parliament placed to prevent any further building on the south side to preserve the views.


* The opening scene of the film "Trainspotting" where Renton is being chased by store detectives takes place in Princes Street.
* A stone run on East Falkland in the Falkland Islands was named "Princes Street" by Charles Darwin, who had connections with Edinburgh. It is around four miles (6 km) long, and he thought it reminded him of the cobbles of Princes Street.Stone, Phillip. [ Periglacial Princes Street - 52° South.] "The Edinburgh Geologist". Issue No 35, 2000.]


External links

* [ New Town Virtual Tour] Take a virtual tour around part of Edinburgh's New Town.

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