Underground in London

The London Underground is celebrating 150 years in 2013. It is the oldest subway in the world, with 250 miles of track and 287 stations. Daily, 1.1 billion passengers, many of them tourists as me, are using its gracious services. Until I needed to use it during the hot summer days, I highly appreciated it, but after surviving the sauna ambiance I realized that maybe some changes are needed. At least by introducing a little bit of air condition. For the sake of humanity, it would be perfect. ImageAccording to Andrew Martin, who wrote a well documented book about the tube – Underground/Overground – the design of the London subway was never properly planned at a city level. It developed piece by piece, at the same time with the development of the city. This is mostly available for the Northern line, with its complicated junctions. For instance, Edgware was welcomed in the network after its 1924 promotion from village to suburb. As in many other cases, the geology and social and political considerations played an important role in the expansion of the metro.ImageEach station looks different and for each station, different patterns of tiles were chosen. 

Over 100 years ago, a journey with the tube was considered a very exquisite occasion and the dress code used to be very strict. However, the social idea of the tube was to offer as many people as possible to go out of their world at affordable prices and enjoy the life in the city.

Times changed and nowadays, everyone is using the tube: it’s fast, you avoid the traffic jams so annoying after 3pm. There it is a risk though, especially during the weekend, when you may be ready to meet a lot of inebriated people. The bad news is that everywhere in the world is the same. But it is only one London.ImageDoes it look similar with…let’s say the Moscow subway? It is a reason why: the underground engineers offered advice to the Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev for the creation of the metro system in the capital city.

The posters were started to be used in the 1930-40s as a source of revenue. Another aim was to educate the masses. Between 1919-1932, a publication called Metroland and distributed in the tube was aimed to promote the modern lifestyle. 

The city is always looking for funding and the advertising in the tube is an important source of revenue. Interested to put your name on a station? Get ready to pay around 500,000 £.

ImageDuring both world wars, most stations were used as bomb shelters. However, the trains continued to operate while people were underground. 

In 1933, the Lost Property Office was open. As of 2011, around 200,000 objects are found out of them only 22% will return to their owners. ImageModernism and the art of the local Craft movement are the determinant art style of the stations. Regularly, programs aimed to support young artists, including poets, are developed. 

If you see newspapers laying on the floor or on the chairs, don’t wonder. There are left for being read. Thus, a journey with the tube can be a good occasion for getting updated with the latest news. Unless you don’t have your own book with your. Or you have something to read on your computer – it is possible to plug in. People are using their trips with the tube in the most diverse ways. During my first visit to London, I was amazed of the determination of ladies to set the perfect make-up despite the high speed of the metro. I am still jealous of their dexterity. ImageThis is an old train, displayed in the Golders Green station on a Sunday, on the occasion of the 150 year celebrations of the tube. The design keep the pace with the times and the behaviour of the citizens of London and their guests. From 1984, the warning ‘Keep Feet Off Seats’ was introduced and the popular ‘Mind the Gap’. 

Do you want to see real Londoners and see the city as fast as possible? Nothing can be done without the old good tube. 150 year old and counting. 


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