A Balloon View of London (as seen from Hampstead)
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Originally published on 1st May, 1851 by Banks & Co of Little Queen Street, Holborn (London). The ‘Banks’ was John Henry Banks who had previously issued a panoramic view of London from the South (in 1843).
It was published on the opening day of the Great Exhibition. The timing of the publication and the attractive pictorial format indicate that it was aimed at the souvenir market – for the massive influx of visitors that year. It was also a detailed practical guide with most street names given, and many churches, public buildings, bridges and places of interest named; it was issued as a folding plan so that the London visitor could easily carry it about and use it on foot.
The view is from Hampstead (a highly unusual North to South orientation; views of London from the South having been the norm since the 16th century) and shows the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park and the empty site cleared for the building of Kings Cross station. The Big Ben Clock Tower (now called Elizabeth Tower) was not yet complete and the Thames Embankments and the underground railway did not yet exist.
The Balloon View was very successful and went through at least 6 editions with a much revised version still being offered for sale in 1878 (not by Banks).
Published by London Metropolitan Archives, London and Harry Margary.