Princes Street
Princes Street is one of the major thoroughfares in central Edinburgh
Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland, the second largest city in Scotland, and the eighth most populous in the United Kingdom. The City of Edinburgh Council governs one of Scotland's 32 local government council areas. The council area includes urban Edinburgh and a rural area...

, Scotland
Scotland is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. Occupying the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it shares a border with England to the south and is bounded by the North Sea to the east, the Atlantic Ocean to the north and west, and the North Channel and Irish Sea to the...

, UK, and its main shopping street. It is the southernmost street of Edinburgh's New Town
New Town, Edinburgh
The New Town is a central area of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It is often considered to be a masterpiece of city planning, and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site...

, 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
Public transport
Public transport is a shared passenger transportation service which is available for use by the general public, as distinct from modes such as taxicab, car pooling or hired buses which are not shared by strangers without private arrangement.Public transport modes include buses, trolleybuses, trams...

 given priority. The street has virtually no buildings on the south side, allowing panoramic views of the Old Town
Old Town, Edinburgh
The Old Town of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is the medieval part of the city. Together with the 18th-century New Town, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has preserved its medieval plan and many Reformation-era buildings....

, Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear...

, and the valley between.

Only the east end of the street is open to all traffic. The bulk of the street is limited to buses and taxis only. During 2009 parts of the street were closed to all traffic as part of the Edinburgh Trams construction works.


The street is named Princes Street after King George III
George III of the United Kingdom
George III was King of Great Britain and King of Ireland from 25 October 1760 until the union of these two countries on 1 January 1801, after which he was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland until his death...

's two eldest sons, the Prince George, Duke of Rothesay
Duke of Rothesay
Duke of Rothesay was a title of the heir apparent to the throne of the Kingdom of Scotland before 1707, of the Kingdom of Great Britain from 1707 to 1801, and now of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland....

 (later King George IV
George IV of the United Kingdom
George IV was the King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and also of Hanover from the death of his father, George III, on 29 January 1820 until his own death ten years later...

) and the Prince Frederick, Duke of York and Albany.

It was laid out according to formal plans for Edinburgh's New Town, now known as the First New Town. These were devised by the architect James Craig
James Craig (architect)
James Craig was a Scottish architect. His brief career was concentrated almost entirely in Edinburgh, and he is remembered primarily for his layout of the first Edinburgh New Town.-Date of birth:...

 and building began around 1760. Princes Street represented a critical part of the plan, being the outer edge, facing Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle is a fortress which dominates the skyline of the city of Edinburgh, Scotland, from its position atop the volcanic Castle Rock. Human habitation of the site is dated back as far as the 9th century BC, although the nature of early settlement is unclear...

 and the original city:"Edinburgh Old Town". Originally all buildings had the same format: set back from the street with stairs down to a basement and stairs up to the ground floor. Heights were generally three storeys plus an attic. Of this original format only one such property remains in its original form. Through the 19th century most buildings were redeveloped at a larger scale and the street evolved from residential to mainly retail uses. In the 1960s a "Princes Street Plan" was proposed, removing all buildings and replacing them with a pro-forma pattern building with first level walkway, theoretically doubling the shopping frontage. The plan was partially put into operation, resulting in a very mixed character to the street. Ironically several of the new buildings, executed in a brutalist style, are now listed buildings.

During the construction of the New Town, the polluted waters of the Nor Loch
Nor Loch
The Nor Loch, also known as the Nor' Loch and the North Loch, was a loch formerly in Edinburgh, Scotland, in the area now occupied by Princes Street Gardens, which lies between the Royal Mile and Princes Street.- Geological formation :...

 were drained, and the area was converted into private gardens called Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is a public park in the centre of Edinburgh, Scotland, in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. The Gardens were created in the 1820s following the long draining of the Nor Loch and the creation of the New Town. The Nor Loch was a large loch in the centre of the city. It was...

. This was taken over by the Edinburgh Council in the late 19th century, by which time most of the street was commercial and there was no great need for private residential gardens. The width of Princes Street was greatly increased soon after, onto what was the northern edge of the gardens. Due to the much lower position of the gardens this led to the creation of the steep embankment on the north side, still visible today. The gardens are one of the many green spaces in the heart of Edinburgh.

The wider George Street
George Street, Edinburgh
Situated to the north of Princes Street, George Street is a major street in the centre of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. Laid out from 1767 as part of James Craig's plan for the New Town, George Street was named in honour of King George III.-Geography:...

 (parallel to Princes Street) was originally intended to be the main commercial street and major thoroughfare, but its neighbour to the south overtook it due to its breathtaking views over the Gardens and to the Old Town. Ironically, in recent years this commercial superiority is beginning to materialise.


Several UK high street brands are located along Princes Street. Bhs, Debenhams
Debenhams plc is a British retailer operating under a department store format in the UK, Ireland and Denmark, and franchise stores in other countries. The Company was founded in the eighteenth century as a single store in London and has now grown to around 160 shops...

, House of Fraser
House of Fraser
House of Fraser is a British department store group with over 60 stores across the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was established in Glasgow, Scotland in 1849 as Arthur and Fraser. By 1891 it was known as Fraser & Sons. The company grew steadily during the early 20th century, but after the Second...

, Marks & Spencer
Marks & Spencer
Marks and Spencer plc is a British retailer headquartered in the City of Westminster, London, with over 700 stores in the United Kingdom and over 300 stores spread across more than 40 countries. It specialises in the selling of clothing and luxury food products...

, Topman
TOPMAN is the stand-alone fashion business counterpart of Topshop that caters exclusively to men’s clothing. A part of the Arcadia Group, which also owns Burton, Miss Selfridge, Wallis, Evans, British Home Stores and Dorothy Perkins, Topman has a chain of high-street men's clothing stores located...

 and Topshop
Topshop is a British clothes retailer with shops in over 20 countries and online operations in a number of its markets. Its sales come primarily from women's clothing and fashion accessories...

 department store
Department store
A department store is a retail establishment which satisfies a wide range of the consumer's personal and residential durable goods product needs; and at the same time offering the consumer a choice of multiple merchandise lines, at variable price points, in all product categories...

s can be found at the west end. Jenners
Jenners Department Store, now known simply as Jenners, is a department store located in Edinburgh, Scotland, and was the oldest independent department store in Scotland until its acquisition by House of Fraser in 2005.- History :...

 (Now owned by House of Fraser
House of Fraser
House of Fraser is a British department store group with over 60 stores across the United Kingdom and Ireland. It was established in Glasgow, Scotland in 1849 as Arthur and Fraser. By 1891 it was known as Fraser & Sons. The company grew steadily during the early 20th century, but after the Second...

) department store was an Edinburgh institution, surviving the disappearance of many other local department stores, such as Patrick Thompson's.
There has been controversy over buildings from the later half of the 20th century on Princes Street. This has prompted plans to demolish the Bhs and the Marks & Spencer buildings, in an effort to improve the status of the street. 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
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 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
Royal Bank of Scotland
The Royal Bank of Scotland Group is a British banking and insurance holding company in which the UK Government holds an 84% stake. This stake is held and managed through UK Financial Investments Limited, whose voting rights are limited to 75% in order for the bank to retain its listing on the...

 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 open-air theatre), a war memorial
War memorial
A war memorial is a building, monument, statue or other edifice to celebrate a war or victory, or to commemorate those who died or were injured in war.-Historic usage:...

 to U.S. soldiers of Scottish descent and a floral clock
Floral clock
A floral clock or flower clock is a large decorative clock set into a flower bed in a park or other public recreation area.The floral clock was a form of carpet bedding set onto an operational clock-face, invented in 1903 by John McHattie of Edinburgh Parks in Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh and...

, together with other attractions. Two of the main Scottish art galleries, the Royal Scottish Academy
Royal Scottish Academy Building
The Royal Scottish Academy Building, situated in the centre of Edinburgh, was designed by William Henry Playfair during the 19th century. Along with the adjacent National Gallery of Scotland, their neo-classical design helped transform Edinburgh in to a modern day Athens of the North.The building...

 and the National Gallery of Scotland
National Gallery of Scotland
The National Gallery of Scotland, in Edinburgh, is the national art gallery of Scotland. An elaborate neoclassical edifice, it stands on The Mound, between the two sections of Edinburgh's Princes Street Gardens...

, are located at the foot of The Mound
The Mound
The Mound is an artificial hill in central Edinburgh, Scotland, which connects Edinburgh's New Town and Old Town. It was formed by dumping around 1,501,000 cartloads of earth excavated from the foundations of the New Town into the drained Nor Loch which forms today's Princes Street Gardens. The...

. Further along is the Scott Monument
Scott Monument
The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott . It stands in Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh, opposite the Jenners department store on Princes Street and near to Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station.The tower is high, and has a series of viewing decks...

, a huge intricate Gothic monument dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, the author of the Waverley Novels
Waverley Novels
The Waverley Novels are a long series of books by Sir Walter Scott. For nearly a century they were among the most popular and widely-read novels in all of Europe. Because he did not publicly acknowledge authorship until 1827, they take their name from Waverley , which was the first...

, after which is named Waverley station
Edinburgh Waverley railway station
Edinburgh Waverley railway station is the main railway station in the Scottish capital Edinburgh. Covering an area of over 25 acres in the centre of the city, it is the second-largest main line railway station in the United Kingdom in terms of area, the largest being...

, which lies at the east end of the Gardens, its westward lines dividing them. Next to the station on its north side is the former railway hotel, previously known as the North British Hotel, latterly renamed the Balmoral Hotel
Balmoral Hotel
The Balmoral is a luxury five-star hotel and landmark in Edinburgh, Scotland, known as the North British Hotel until the late 1980s. It is located in the heart of the city at the east end of Princes Street, the main shopping street beneath the Edinburgh Castle rock, and the southern edge of the New...

, and the North Bridge
North Bridge, Edinburgh
North Bridge is a road bridge and street in Edinburgh linking the High Street with Princes Street, and the New Town with the Old. The current bridge was built between 1894–97. A previous North Bridge, built from 1763–72, stood until 1896....

 which sails at high level over the station. The hotel has a counterpart at the extreme west end of Princes Street. The Caledonian Hotel, now the Caledonian Hilton, sits at the north end of Lothian Road. This was built by the Caledonian Railway
Caledonian Railway
The Caledonian Railway was a major Scottish railway company. It was formed in the early 19th century and it was absorbed almost a century later into the London, Midland and Scottish Railway, in the 1923 railway grouping, by means of the Railways Act 1921...

 for their Princes Street Station
Princes Street railway station
Princes Street Station was a mainline railway station which stood at the west end of Princes Street, in Edinburgh, Scotland, for almost 100 years. A temporary station was opened in 1870, with construction of the main station commencing in the 1890s. The station was closed completely in 1965 and...

 which closed in the 1960s along with the lines it served.

At the west end of Princes Street, St. John's Episcopal Church at the corner of Lothian Road is built at street level above a basement crypt and a small churchyard. In addition, there are several fair trade outlets in this space as part of the church, whilst St Cuthbert's Church stands just to the south of it, in a far larger and older churchyard, west of the gardens.

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
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Princes Street may be one of the few streets in the UK to have an order of Parliament
Parliament of the United Kingdom
The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom, British Crown dependencies and British overseas territories, located in London...

 placed on it to prevent any further building on the south side, so as to preserve its open vista.


  • One of the main streets of the New Zealand city of Dunedin
    Dunedin is the second-largest city in the South Island of New Zealand, and the principal city of the Otago Region. It is considered to be one of the four main urban centres of New Zealand for historic, cultural, and geographic reasons. Dunedin was the largest city by territorial land area until...

     is named Princes Street
    Princes Street, Dunedin
    Princes Street is a major street in Dunedin, the second largest city in the South Island of New Zealand. It runs south-southwest for two kilometres from The Octagon in the city centre to the Oval sports ground, close to the city's Southern Cemetery...

     after the street in Edinburgh. Dunedin is the Gaelic form of Edinburgh's name and many of Dunedin's streets duplicate Edinburgh street names.
  • A stone run
    Stone run
    A stone run is a conspicuous rock landform, result of the erosion of particular rock varieties caused by myriad freezing-thawing cycles taking place in periglacial conditions during the last Ice Age.The actual formation of stone runs involved no less than five processes: weathering, solifluction,...

     on East Falkland
    East Falkland
    East Falkland the largest of the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic, has an area of and a coastline long. Most of the population of the Falklands live in East Falkland, almost all of them living in the northern half of the island...

     in the Falkland Islands
    Falkland Islands
    The Falkland Islands are an archipelago in the South Atlantic Ocean, located about from the coast of mainland South America. The archipelago consists of East Falkland, West Falkland and 776 lesser islands. The capital, Stanley, is on East Falkland...

     was named "Princes Street" by Charles Darwin
    Charles Darwin
    Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

    , who studied at the University of Edinburgh
    University of Edinburgh
    The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1583, is a public research university located in Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The university is deeply embedded in the fabric of the city, with many of the buildings in the historic Old Town belonging to the university...

    . It is around four miles (6 km) long, and he thought it reminded him of the cobbles of Princes Street.
  • The floral clock dates from 1903 when it was first planted by the Park Superintendent, Mr. McHattie. It displays a different theme every summer.
  • The opening scene of the film Trainspotting
    Trainspotting (film)
    Trainspotting is a 1996 British satirical/drama film directed by Danny Boyle based on the novel of the same name by Irvine Welsh. The movie follows a group of heroin addicts in a late 1980s economically depressed area of Edinburgh and their passage through life...

    shows the main character Renton being chased by store detectives along Princes Street.
  • Sylvain Chomet's 2010 film The Illusionist features some charming animated scenes of Princes Street in the late 1950s.
The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.