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6 Things You Didn't Know About the City of London

By Sam Knijff
- 4 minutes read

London is a captivating city that has something for everyone, from history buffs to art aficionados to foodies. But there is a lesser-known aspect to this sprawling metropolis—the City of London. Although it spans just 1.12 square miles (which earns it the nickname "The Square Mile"), it's packed with fascinating stories, history, and peculiarities that are often overlooked. Here are six facts that may surprise you about the City of London.

  1. It’s Not Just London—It’s a City Within a City: Many people mistakenly think that the City of London refers to the entire capital, but that's not the case. The City of London is a distinct entity, separate from the 32 boroughs that make up Greater London. Governed by the City of London Corporation, it has its own set of laws, its own police force, and even its own Lord Mayor.

    City of London map
  2. Unique Voting Rights for Businesses: In most parts of the world, the right to vote in local elections is reserved for individual residents. However, the City of London has a unique arrangement. Here, businesses can also vote, and their voting power is scaled according to the number of employees they have. This unusual system reflects the City's commercial significance and historical origins as a trade hub.

  3. The "Ring of Steel": Since the 1990s, the City of London has been surrounded by what's known colloquially as the "Ring of Steel"—a network of roadblocks, barricades, and surveillance cameras. Originally implemented as a security measure against terrorist attacks, it now serves the dual purpose of monitoring criminal activity. Surprisingly, many Londoners and tourists remain unaware of this extensive security network.

  4. Abundant Dragons: As you stroll through the City of London, you might notice dragon statues at key entry points like the Victoria Embankment and Bishopsgate. These dragons serve as boundary markers and are symbolic guardians of the City. According to legend, the dragons protect the treasure buried underneath the city, a nod to the area’s historical wealth and importance.

    dragon statue in City of London
  5. Skyscraper Nicknames Abound: While the City of London is historical, it also embraces modernity, especially in architecture. The financial district is home to several skyscrapers, many of which have endearing, unofficial nicknames. The Leadenhall Building is commonly known as the "Cheese Grater", 30 St Mary Axe is often referred to as the "Gherkin", and 20 Fenchurch Street has earned the moniker "The Walkie-Talkie".

    City of London view with some of the most notable skyscrapers - Gerkin and The Cheese Grater
  6. Unusual Worshipful Companies: The City of London is home to 100 Livery Companies, ancient trade associations or guilds. While some are well-known and continue to be relevant today, like the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths, others have rather unusual or archaic focuses. These include the Worshipful Company of Fan Makers, the Worshipful Company of Carmen, and even the Worshipful Company of Information Technologists, which is one of the newest.

Fishmongers Hall - headquarters of the Worshipful Company of Fishmongers

The City of London is an enigma wrapped in a paradox, offering layers of history, tradition, and modernity in its compact layout. So the next time you find yourself wandering through London, consider taking a detour to explore this fascinating square mile with a life of its own. If you find yourself in the City and are looking to furnish an office space, don't miss out on A1 Office Furniture. This gem offers quality office furniture without the hefty price tag. So the next time you visit, whether you're retracing history or shopping for your workspace, London has something special in store for you.

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