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WQXR Blog

Violinist Min-Jin Kym’s Stolen Stradivarius is Found after Two Years

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Classical musician Min-Jin Kym, the British Transport Police, and Stradivarius lovers can rest easy tonight knowing that a high-profile case of violin theft has finally closed.

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Annotations: The NEH Preservation Project

Alec Waugh's Martinique, and a Brotherly Deed to the World

Friday, January 11, 2013

WNYC

In this amusing, time-capsule of a talk, given at a 1956 Books and Authors Luncheon to promote his best-selling novel Island In the Sun, Alec Waugh explains how he came to write about the West Indies.

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Transportation Nation

Photos and Videos: Eye Candy Celebrating the London's Underground's 150 Anniversary

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

On January 9, 2013, the world's first underground journey took place in London.

A lithograph of Baker Street Station on Metropolitan Railway (Image courtesy of London Transport Museum)

According to the London Transport Museum:

The original Underground line was built and financed by the Metropolitan Railway, a private company which had been formed in 1854 to undertake the project to link the mainline stations at Paddington, Euston and King’s Cross with the City centre business district to the east.

Travelling on the new railway was a novelty that thousands of Londoners were eager to experience and on the first day of public service – long queues formed at every station. The line was a huge success with 26,000 passengers using the railway each day in the first six months.

A view of the platform at the Victoria station (Image courtesy of London Transport Museum)

 

In 1969, Queen Elizabeth opened a section of the Victoria Line and actually took the controls. According to press reports, it was her second time riding the Tube.

(Image courtesy of London Transport Museum)

 

But she didn't just ride. The queen apparently also took the controls.

 

Carriage 353 was a  four-wheeled first class carriage built in 1892.  Amazingly, it had been "relegated to use as a garden shed." Check out a video of its history -- and restoration process -- below.

Metropolitan Carriage 353, pausing between test runs at Quorn Station (image courtesy of London Transport Museum)

 

Here's what the interior of a 1938 car looked like:

 (Image courtesy of London's Transport Museum)

 

 

To celebrate the 150th anniversary, Google UK blessed its site with an Underground-themed Doodle.

Google Doodle

 

Today, Transport for London estimates around 3.5 million journeys are made on the network each day, across 11 lines serving 270 stations.

 

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Operavore

Planet Opera London: Discovering Handel and his Times

Friday, November 16, 2012

A visit to the Handel House Museum, the composer's former home in London, inspires blogger Fred Plotkin to consider his place in the operatic canon. 

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The Takeaway

An NFL Football Game in London

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Everyone knows the UK loves their Football. But what about our Football: The American Version? The NFL returns to London this weekend for it's annual showcase game, and we want to find out if there's any real desire for the American version of the game in England.

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Transportation Nation

New York Beats London in Tourism During the Olympics.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Seven years ago, London beat out New York in the competition to host the 2012 Olympics. So with the lights snuffed out on the dazzling cauldron of torches at London's Olympic Stadium, it becomes official: New York wins in the tourist Olympics, even without the games.

Over the past two weeks, New York beat London in tourists-per-day by a score of 538,000 to 429,000. New York's hotel occupancy was higher too, at 93 percent compared to London's 80 percent. These numbers come from NYU's Rudin Center for Transportation Policy. The two cities are roughly the same size, so it's not a population disparity.

The authors, Professor Mitchell Moss and Carson Qing, cited average figures from tourism boards in the two cities. Moss says New York's loss to London in a bid to land the Olympics, wasn't so bad after all: "The key point about the Olympics is that the people who go there, they go to watch the sports. Tourists who come to NY, they come here to shop, they come to look at other people, they come here to go to the museums."

Moss posits that fear of Olympic crowding led non-games-related tourists to cancel or postpone their trips to London. He's also a New Yorker.

According to the report, New York also far outstripped London in museum and theater attendance over the past two Olympic weeks, though the researchers regrettably neglected crunching the numbers to compare Olympic men's field hockey attendance with recent Mets games.
http://www.scribd.com/doc/102849561

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The Takeaway

Olympics Recap, Paralympics, and Rio 2016

Monday, August 13, 2012

The closing ceremony for the Olympics was last night, but the Paralympics are still to come. They begin in London on August 29 and continue until September 9. All the while, Rio De Janeiro is preparing to host the Olympics in 2016.

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Transportation Nation

Olympics Have London Rethinking Iconic Underground Signage

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

(Joe Peach -- This Big City) The map of London’s underground network is truly iconic. Designed in 1931 by London Underground employee Harry Beck, it sacrifices geographical accuracy for a diagrammatic approach, with strict design rules that are flexible with the geographical truth transforming a potentially sprawling and confusing transit map into a logical and almost immediately understandable urban utility.

However, as London’s underground network ages and continues to carry millions of passengers every day, the true cost of sacrificing geographical accuracy is becoming more obvious. Beck used straight lines in place of the city’s snaking routes, and almost equidistant spacing between stations when some are strangely close to one another. The end result is that many London Underground users change lines to reach their destination when walking would be much quicker, or take routes that appear shortest on the map, but in fact aren’t the most speedy option.

Until recently, Transport for London (TfL) – the government body responsible for the underground network – has not considered this much of an issue. Sure, they encouraged app development by releasing data from the network to developers at no cost, but the underground map and all related signage have remained largely the same. Until now.

With millions of visitors in London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, the city’s transport network is under more pressure than ever before. If you want to head to the Olympics, chances are you’ll get the next tube to Stratford, even though there are countless other stations that link to Olympic sites. Aware of the challenges of dealing with millions of extra riders, most of whom won’t be local and will be relying on geographically flawed signage for directions, TfL have made some temporary updates.

(Photo courtesy of This Big City)

Route maps on underground carriages, like the one pictured above, are now littered with pink boxes pointing out which stations can be used to access Olympic events. This photo shows what you’ll find if you take the Jubilee Line, and London’s 12 other lines are all looking pretty similar. Though relatively minor additions, they represent a pretty radical development for a map that has barely changed its visual approach in eight decades.

(Photo courtesy of This Big City)

If pink isn’t your favorite color, probably best to find another transport option for the next few weeks as the new signage doesn’t stop there. (See TN's previous coverage with pic of pink clad transport workers here). Previously, on your way out from an underground station you could be greeted by multiple possible exits. These exists are either numbered or differentiated by the road they exit onto, but for a visitor to the city with one thing on their mind, this information is not enough. So the pink boxes are put to use once again, plastering walls with their straightforward directions to those key places TfL knows you are heading.

(Photo courtesy of This Big City)

If, like many of the locals, you are refraining from looking up to avoid making eye contact with your fellow travellers (awkward), the floor is also your friend for the next few weeks. Pink circles clearly pointing out which direction you need to go in have become a common site on the ground at some of the city’s larger stations.

London’s underground network is the oldest in the world, and as a result many stations are named after once-significant local features (in fact, much of London is named after once-significant local features). The effect of this is the present-day destinations they largely exist to serve rarely get prominent placement on signage, with obvious potential for confusion among travellers. Though investment in technology and improved infrastructure is critical for the London Underground to remain efficient (and TfL is doing both of these things), improving the design of the network’s wayfinding tools also plays a key role. A functional city needs citizens and visitors that are well-informed, and with TfL rethinking its underground map and signage, London has become that little bit easier to get around, for locals and visitors alike.

This post originally appeared in Olympic Cities a collaboration between This Big City and Future Cape Town.

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Top 5 @ 105

The World's Top Five Cities for Classical Music

Thursday, August 02, 2012

As nations vie for athletic superiority at the London Olympics, the Greater London Authority has created an international measuring stick to assess a location’s cultural merit. See where New York ranks.

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World Weekly with Gideon Rachman

London 2012: The first week of the Olympic games

Thursday, August 02, 2012

London 2012: The first week of the Olympic games

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Transportation Nation

London Olympics: Pink Means Go (SLIDESHOW)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

London's transportation network has survived the first workday of the Olympic Games -- and, according to one transit user, is well organized. And colorful.

WNYC's Kathleen Ehrlich is in London this week, so we've tasked her to be TN's official Olympic transport correspondent. (Vacation time be damned!) She shared with us her impressions of the first weekday of the Games. "The system is crowded, but holding up," she says.

View a slideshow of photos from the London Olympics (all photos by Steven Z. Ehrlich)

Kathleen says the flow of foot traffic on the rail system is being carefully controlled. "Many routes were adjusted so that at certain busy stations you can only get on or get off at certain parts of the day," she says, "or you can only enter or exit through certain entrances." And there's a lot of help for transit riders. "Tube stations/train stations are staffed with large numbers of volunteers as well as extra workers," she says. "The people helping out have been cheerful and knowledgeable. The system is spotlessly clean. Workers are giving people free rides on the tube if people are having issues with their Oysters and getting them on their way is taking priority over making sure everyone is paying."

If there are issues, it's easy to ID help. The four official colors of the 2012 Olympics are pink, blue, green and orange -- colors that, according to the official website, "were carefully chosen to communicate the spirit of the London 2012 Games: energetic, spirited, bright and youthful."

Not to mention unmissable.

(photo by Steven Z. Ehrlich)

"It stands out," says Kathleen. "Nothing else is fuchsia. So as soon as you see it, you know it's about the Olympics and likely about travel."

So far, the transit system seems to be keeping people off the roads. Boris Johnson, London's mayor, told ITV that "we've been able to turn off a lot of the Games lanes because so many people are going by public transport."

 

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The Takeaway

Saudi Arabia Sends Women to Olympics for First Time

Friday, July 13, 2012

Saudi Arabia is sending two female athletes to the Olympics for the first time, becoming one of the last competing countries to do so. The step is a huge statement for female athletes globally, but some critics warn that it may be a deceiving one.

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The Takeaway

The Olympic Athletes You Should Be Watching

Monday, July 09, 2012

The Olympic trials are in full swing, which means the games are right around the corner. Today, we’re kicking off our coverage with some of the Olympic athletes to watch in 2012. But there are plenty of other athletes flying under the radar who could make a big splash in London. Jason Stallman, deputy sports editor for our partner The New York Times, has his eye on who to watch out for.

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The Takeaway

The Two Faces of London: John Lanchester's "Capital"

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

London has had plenty of reasons to celebrate lately. Last April was the Royal Wedding, and just a few weeks ago thousands commemorated the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee. But behind these posh events, and the billions of dollars in taxes they require, is a struggling citizenry that has been plagued by terrorism, and more recently, widespread rioting.

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WNYC News

London’s Mayor: Bike Share Will Civilize New York

Monday, June 11, 2012

WNYC

The New World can still learn a thing or two from the Old World – especially when it comes to transportation. Just as London had the tube before New York City got the subway, London has had a bike share in operation before New York City.

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Transportation Nation

London's Mayor: Bike Share Will Civilize New York

Monday, June 11, 2012

London Mayor Boris Johnson. (photo by hammersmithandfulham / Flickr)

(New York, NY - WNYC) When we heard that Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, would be sitting for an interview with show host Leonard Lopate in a studio at WNYC, we made sure to plant a transportation question.

Lopate: Our news department wanted us to ask if you have any advice for New York as it launches its bikeshare program next month.

Johnson: My advice is, 'Enjoy it.' I think it's high time that New York had it. It's a great scheme; it will go well.

Johnson then described how London's bikeshare program has transformed street life in Great Britain's capital city, and what New Yorkers should brace for.

Johnson: I think drivers have got to learn to recognize they are going to find bikes on the streets. It's just a fact of life, and it will civilize the place. It will improve the atmosphere. There's nothing more immediately redolent of a village than loads of people wobbling around on bicycles.

Understandably, Lopate was suspicious of the idea that New Yorkers could be civilized, especially compared to Londoners.

Lopate: London's always had a bicycle culture. And bicyclists, at least when I rode around London, actually observed the traffic rules. We would signal left turn, right turn, and not go through red lights. That doesn't happen in this city. Has there been the kind of war between drivers and bicyclists that we've seen in New York?

Johnson: I wish everybody was as punctilious as you are, Leonard. I'm going to have to confess to you that we've got some bad habits now in London. There's loads of people who jump red lights, ride on the pavement, intimidate pedestrians and disobey the rules of the road. If any of them are listening, they know who they are.

Despite such problems, bikeshares have come a long way since the 1960s, when a Dutch anarchist group collected several hundred bicycles, painted them white and left them lying around Amsterdam to be used for free--a bold stroke that inspired this super-groovy song. Today's bikeshares, like Barclay Cycle Hire in London, tend to be organized, branded and growing.

Johnson: We've seen a massive expansion of cycling in London. Last year alone, it's gone up 15 percent. The cycle scheme we've got in is expanding very fast. We're at something like 40,000 rides a day. We will go further.

Still, the Mayor of London ended with a cautionary note about the need for police to crack down on bad actors.

Johnson: But there's got to be a reciprocal understanding by cyclists that they've got to obey the rules of the road.

Are you listening, New York City?

Here is a video about how London's bikeshare works:

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The Leonard Lopate Show

London Mayor Boris Johnson

Monday, June 11, 2012

Boris Johnson, mayor of London, talks about how London became one of the most exciting and influential places on Earth. In Johnson's Life of London, he tells the story of his city and the outsized characters—famous and infamous, brilliant and bizarre—who have shaped it.

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Soundcheck

Micachu and the Shapes: In Studio

Friday, June 01, 2012

The London-based band Micachu and the Shapes - led by multi-instrumentalist, singer and composer Mica Levi - made an indie rock splash in 2009 with their debut album, "Jewellery." The group's follow-up, called "Never," comes out in July - and today, we get a preview.

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The Takeaway

100 Days to the Paralympic Games

Monday, May 21, 2012

Organizers are starting to talk about something that's never happened before - a sellout for the Paralympic Games. With 100 days to go before the start of the Paralympics in London, the public has a chance to see more than 4,000 elite athletes when the last remaining tickets go on sale today. Eleven-time gold medalist Dame Tanni Grey Thompson has broken over 30 wheelchair world records in track and field. Now retired, she's looking forward to the Paralympics which she insists will leap over a high bar.

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The Takeaway

John Hockenberry on the "Design of the Year" Nominees

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

John Hockenberry reports from London, where he visited the UK's National Design Museum to view the "design of the year" nominations on display. With more than 80 entries in seven categories, the designs included a life-size paper hearse and a plan for a hospital in Rwanda that benefits the community.

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