A 3D Map of Soho in 1991
Updated: Feb 19
The Soho Cityscape 1991/92 is one of my favourite London maps. The locations of sights, shops, food places, pubs and entertainments from over 30 years ago are encapsulated in a magnificent a birds-eye view.
The map opens to almost 2' square, appx. 61cm each side. There is an abundance of detail and interest. Companies paid to have their names or logos displayed on the rooftops. The has led to some odd omissions and some unlikely inclusions. Here are some close-up views of the map, click on any view for a larger version.
Oxford Circus at the junction of Oxford Street and Regent Street, the northern and western boundaries of Soho. A thin slice of Mayfair to the left of the map includes a Sock Shop, Godiva Chocolatier and Opus 1# Contemporary Craft Gallery Shop whose logo contains the musical symbol for a sharp rather than a hashtag . Laura Ashley, Dickens & Jones, Gap and Jaeger take us back to Soho on the other side of Regent Street. The Palladium and Liberty are still going strong. The Poster Shop, Monsoon and Muji welcome visitors to Carnaby Street beyond. Carnaby Street and Newburgh Street have their own map, we'll come to that later.
In Mayfair we can see a Post Office! It is next to Country Life in Heddon Street. Tim Gilbey of Savile Row has a Waistcoat gallery but it's not in Savile Row. Hamley's didn't stump up for an ad, so they don't exist. Lawleys and The European Bookshop must have been big spenders. Boy, Lonsdale, Capricorn, Dubble Bubble, Nelsons, Inderwick's, The Great Frog and others are not on the smaller Carnaby Street map. The Face is north of Golden Square in Beak Street. Slap Harry's, Workers for Freedom, Footes and Cafe Rio are to the south and on Brewer Street.
In the bottom left is a small slice of St. James's including Rowly's, Astley's, Cafe Torino and without an ad, St James's Piccadilly. A triangle of Mayfair across Piccadilly has The Veeraswamy, The Stork Club and a Sock Shop.The Regent Palace Hotel stands proudly, ship-like with her bow pointing towards Piccadilly Circus. PIP Printing occupies a prime location right on the circus, colour printing on demand was magical back then.
I doubt whether anyone today would book a holiday through a company called "Council Travel". Grahame's Fish Restaurant appear to have had a bigger ad budget than M&S. The two branches of Burger Delight (one is just north of Oxford Street in Fitzrovia and next to a Sock Shop) are no more and Berwick Video is a dim memory.
The top right section of the map includes the area around St Giles Circus that I loved in my teens and twenties and just not because there were two branches of Sock Shop 100 yards apart. The Virgin Megastore, Our Price, Vinyl Experience and others in Hanway Street filled my hours and emptied my pockets. The Star Cafe on the Corner of Hollen Street and Great Chapel Street was "The Moon Under Water" of cafes. This section of the map also feature the Map's Legend, two of the most important features being the symbols for competing BT Payphones and Mercurycard Phones.
Centrepoint is in the top right corner on a level with the greenery of Soho Square. The Astoria Theatre didn't take an ad but their neighbours Charing Cross News across Sutton Row did. Some familiar bookshops feature in around on Charing Cross Road and to the west are some of the innumerable pubs, cafes and restaurants of Soho. Pollo's, The Stockpot, Jimmy's, Mildred's, Maison Bertaux, The Pillars of Hercules, Quo Vadis and De Hems are just a few of the places that hold a personal significance for me.
Right at the bottom of the map and the wrong side of Charing Cross Road to be properly in Soho is the greatly missed Gaby's. Loon Fung and New World herald Chinatown to the west.
Leicester Square today has lost the Swiss Centre and its tower but still has The Odeon and Empire cinemas. Just off the square is the far more reasonably priced Prince Charles Cinema. The Trocadero had its very own branch of Sock Shop. The Rock Island Diner was in the London Pavilion together with the unmarked "Rock Circus" by Tussauds. The Piccadilly, and New Piccadilly restaurants are in the top left
Berwick Street, its market, record and material shops including Sister Ray, Quoff, Reckless Records and Broadwick Silks. The Algerian Coffee Stores and the Admiral Duncan both have adverts that make their premises look far bigger than they really are. Remarkably we can see another Post Office, this time on Broadwick Street, but there isn't a Sock Shop in this view.
On the back of the main map are three smaller maps, Carnaby Street, Old Compton Street and Denmark Street "Tin Pan Alley".
The Carnaby Street map includes Newburgh Street, Foubert's Place, Lowndes Court, Marlborough Street, Ganton Street and Kingly Court. Businesses that took ads include the Shakespeare's Head, RIP, Phood, Rider, Zoo, Deals Restaurant, London Line, Boots, Cobra, Benetton, Harry's Bar, Radio Clothing Company, The Metropolitan Club, Nut House, Bankrupt Clothing Company, Sherry's The China Warehouse, The Print Gallery, Sacha, Humla, Academy Soho, Gary Wallis, Gold, Daunt Bookshop, Supreme, Pioneer Photos, Taro Japanese Barbecue, Junior Gaultier, Helen Storey, Bond, Duo, The Greek Shop, Marshall Street Leisure Centre, Pan Hogg, Papa Piccolino, Jess James, The Dispensary, Keats Coffee Shop, The White Horse, John Richmond, Jacqueline Hancher, Cranks, Patisserie Valerie, Aalto and ... Sock Shop.
We saw Old Compton Street earlier, the dedicated map includes Cuts the globally influential hairdresser after they moved from Kensington Market but before they moved to Dean Street. You may not know the name but you'd recognise the haircuts they gave to Boy George, David Bowie, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Neneh Cherry, Goldie and many more. Pop in to visit them, even if like me you'll never your hair cut ever again, they always have something interesting on show in their gallery.
The Tin Pan Alley, Denmark Street, map features Andy's, Boogie, Hank's, Tin Pan Alley Music Clearance Centre, Rhodes Music Co. Sutekina Music, Roka's, T.P.A. Bar, Rose-Morris Music Stores and Cafe Munchen Bier Keller on St Giles High Street.
Other Cityscape maps of Covent Garden, West End and Cambridge are listed as being available. Redbridge, Oxford, Bath and Edinburgh versions are said to be "coming soon". I have never seen any of these other Cityscape maps. I have seen odd later editions from 1993 and '94 for sale, including Brighton. I'd love to find the other London maps.
At just 30 years old the Soho Cityscape is already full of valuable historical detail, it captures a fixed snapshot of the ephemeral in a time shortly before Google and its constantly updating 3D maps of almost anywhere. Unlike its web based successors Soho Cityscape is also a beautiful object and a fantastic memory jogger.
I hope the original 1991/92 Cityscape London maps are reissued one day, I am sure there would be a market for them. Soho Cityscape was "Designed and published by Footprints, 14 Downside Crescent, London, NW3 2AP".