Should you be visiting Piccadilly Circus during a short-break in London (and why wouldn’t you be?), chances are you may well use the London Underground – or the Tube, as it’s affectionately known by locals. And if you do, it’s highly likely you’ll get out at Piccadilly Circus station. For many of the millions of commuters and tourists who use the Tube daily, this underground urban train network serves as a means to an end; many probably don’t take in an enormous amount when they’re using it, just as much as they need to before they emerge again into the open air. But Piccadilly Circus is one stop on the network that’s hard to forget quickly – it leaves quite the impression.
Why is this? Well, partly because of how busy it is. In 1907, just a year after it opened to the general public, 1.5 million passengers passed through it; fifteen years later in 1922 that figure had swelled considerably to 18 million people. And, over the last four years, it’s averaged out at a staggering 42.2 million passengers per calendar year. Undoubtedly, located right in the heart of Central London’s West End district, it’s a spectacularly bustling stop; if you stand still in its concourse during rush hour there’s a danger you might get swept away by the crowds. Genuinely.
But it would be a shame should that happen. Because, architecturally speaking, Piccadilly Circus London Tube station is a pearler of a place. First, it’s one of the few stations of the network to be entirely subterranean; no part of it at rises above ground. And, second, when you ascend via the escalators from one of the four platforms that serve the Piccadilly and Bakerloo lines, you’ll discover the aforementioned concourse is entirely circular; indeed, once you’ve passed through the barriers from the escalators and into the concourse proper to reach one of the exits (probably on the way to where you’re staying; for instance, one of the hotels near Piccadilly Circus Tube station), you’ll find that should you not actually exit the station you’ll simply walk round and round in a hoop-shape; like going round and round a roundabout.
Grade II-Listed since 1984, it also offers one of the finest examples of the beautiful Art Deco interior design ethos that graces many Tube stations, with its tiled floors and decorous but angular touches throughout – when the ticket hall was first constructed back in 1925 it was, in fact, graced with a giant mural of the world featuring London, fittingly for this Tube station itself, at its very centre.
It’s unclear what the future will hold for Piccadilly Tube station – it may well see renovation and thus major changes should the controversial over-ground Crossrail 2 railway network project go ahead in the next few years – so you’re well advised to give this unique underground train station a visit now. Trust me, it’ll prove unforgettable; with all the hustle-bustle and electricity, it’ll feel like you’re at the centre of the world.