Lonely Planet Writer

Vast collection of historical London photos and pictures now available online

The world’s largest collection of London photos and art has gone online. Collage – The London Picture Archive features over 250,000 images of the city and over a thousand maps going back to the 15th century. Anyone can browse the collection, as well as search for images of individual London streets through history and explore via an interactive map.

London Metropolitan Archives.
London Metropolitan Archives. Image by Matt Brown / CC BY 2.0

Highlights include photographs of Victorian London, the sixteenth century ‘Agas’ map of the city and pictures showing the aftermath of WWII bombings. Photos and paintings capture the chaos of the Great Fire of London, the bustle and poverty of the 19th-century city, the evolution of pubs through history and the pomp of royal London.

But, arguably the most appealing feature, is the ability to search for images from specific locations and see everything from photos of building sites and markets to sketches of duels right across the city.

The 250,000 images reflect only a part of the collections of the London Metropolitan Archives . Around two million prints, drawings and maps are held by the archive, many of which can be seen at its base in Clerkenwell. Other historic pictures and photos of the city can be seen at the Guildhall Art Gallery.

Guildhall Art Gallery
Guildhall Art Gallery Image by Elias Gayles / CC BY 2.0

London has been settled since the Bronze Age, although the modern city has its roots in Londinium, which was established by the Romans in around 50 AD. It is the world’s most visited city, hosted the Olympics in 2012 and its Tube network is the world’s oldest underground railway.