This map plots the settings and references in Longitude

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18th-century London
by hector
London c.1700
Public DomainLondon c.1700 - Credit: Wencesclas Hollar

The obvious, but critical, point about the capital in which the Act of Longitude was passed was its size.  It was a tiny fraction of modern London, still focused almost entirely around the City.  


Northumberland House, 1752
Public DomainNorthumberland House, 1752 - Credit: Canaletto









During the course of the 18th century, London expanded rapidly to incorporate new developments like Mayfair and Bloomsbury.  But Belgravia, Chelsea, Fulham and Hammersmith remained well outside the city limits.


Westminster Bridge, 1746
Public DomainWestminster Bridge, 1746 - Credit: Canaletto

The 18th Century was good to the growing city.   London became healthier, wealthier and considerably grander than the old wooden town that had gone up in flames in 1666.  The new St Paul's was completed in 1708; Westminster Bridge - only the city's second after London Bridge - was completed in 1750.


The 18th Century brought newspapers and a regular police force to London: the first daily was published in Fleet Street in 1702; the Bow Street Runners were founded in 1749 by the author Henry Fielding.   Coffee houses became popular, and began hosting stock and commodity traders and auctions, leading eventually to the formation of Christie's, Sotheby's and the London Stock Exchange. 


London, 1751
Public DomainLondon, 1751 - Credit: Thomas Bowles