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Piccadilly Circus at dawn
This is the time (on a Saturday morning) when you cross very few people.
It's hard to tell if they are back from a night out or off to work (other weirdos are just out to take pictures)...one way or another...they were tired and so was I.
Piccadilly Circus is a famous road junction and public space of London's West End in the City of Westminster, built in 1819 to connect Regent Street with the major shopping street of Piccadilly. In this context a circus, from the Latin word meaning a circle, is a circular open space at a street junction. Its status as a major traffic-intersection has made Piccadilly Circus a busy meetingplace and a tourist attraction in its own right.
The Circus is particularly known for its video display and neon signs mounted on the corner building on the northern side, as well as the Shaftesbury memorial fountain and statue of an archer popularly known as Eros (sometimes called The Angel of Christian Charity, but intended to be Anteros). It is surrounded by several noted buildings, including the London Pavilion and Criterion Theatre. Directly underneath the plaza is Piccadilly Circus London Underground station.
Piccadilly Circus used to be surrounded by illuminated advertising hoardings on buildings, starting in the early 1900s, but only one building now carries them, the one in the north-western corner between Shaftesbury Avenue and Glasshouse Street. The site is unnamed (usually referred to as Monico after the Cafe Monico which used to be on the site); its addresses are 44/48 Regent Street, 1/6 Sherwood Street, 17/22 Denman Street and 1/17 Shaftesbury Avenue, and has been owned by property investor Land Securities Group since the 1970s.
The earliest signs used incandescent light bulbs, these were replaced with neon lamps, as well as moving signs (there was a large Guinness clock at one time). From December 1998 digital projectors were briefly used for the Coke sign , while the early 2000s have seen a gradual move to LED displays. The number of signs has reduced over the years as the rental costs have increased.
As of 2008, the site has six illuminated advertising screens above three large retail units, facing Piccadilly Circus on the north side, occupied by Boots, and GAP and a mix of smaller retail, restaurant and office premises fronting the other streets. A Burger King located under the Samsung advert which had been previously a Wimpy Bar until the late 1980s had closed in early 2008 and has now been converted into a Barclays Bank.
Coca-Cola have had a sign at Piccadilly Circus since 1955. The sign dates from September 2003, when the previous digital projector board and the site formerly occupied by Nescafe was replaced with a state-of-the-art LED video display that curves round with the building. On November 23 2007 the very first film was broadcast through the board. Paul Atherton's film The Ballet of Change: Piccadilly Circus was allowed five minutes to show the first non-commercial film depicting the history of Piccadilly Circus and the lights. The former Nescafe advert site had also been occupied by a neon advertisement for Fosters until about 1999 and for three months in 2002 between the display of the Nescafe advert and the enlarged Coca Cola advert this part of Piccadilly Circus had featured the quote "Imagine all the people living life in peace" by Beatle John Lennon. This was paid for by his wife Yoko Ono who spent an estimated ?150,000 to display an advert at this location.
Sanyo's sign is the oldest out of the six, having been installed in the late 1980s and remaining unchanged ever since. However, earlier Sanyo signs with older logos have occupied that position since at least 1980.
TDK replaced the space formerly occupied by Kodak in 1990. Their sign has remained almost unchanged since, although in 2001 the colour of the background lamps were changed from green to blue, and the words 'Audio & Video Tape' and 'Floppy Disks' under the logo was removed.
McDonald's added a sign in the mid-1980s, replacing one for BASF. In 2001 the sign was changed from neon to an animated LED screen, which was further changed to a bigger, brighter LED screen in 2008.
Samsung replaced a sign for Panasonic in November 1994 , and the sign was upgraded from neon to LED in 2005.
Piccadilly Lite was added on 3 December 2007, placed under the Samsung and McDonald's signs. This is an LED screen that allows other companies to advertise for both short and long term leases, increasing the amount of advertising space but using the same screen for multiple brands.
The British mobile telephony company Vodafone used to have a neon sign installed on the roof of Coventry House, which diagonally faces Piccadilly Circus. In addition to the logo of the company, the sign displayed personal messages that could be submitted on a special website and displayed at a certain time and date. As of February 2007, this has been replaced by a new, larger LED video-advertising displ
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