George Street, Edinburgh

View looking west from the statue of William Pitt.
View looking east along George Street, towards St Andrew Square
Statue of James Clerk Maxwell on George Street
Historic view of the east end of George Street
George Street, Edinburgh, during the August festival period 2015.
George St, Edinburgh, closed to traffic during the WestFest trial.

George Street in Edinburgh is the central street in James Craig's plan of the New Town.[1]

It is located to the north of Princes Street and to the south of Queen Street, runs along the high point of a ridge. It connects St Andrew Square with Charlotte Square and takes its name from King George III.[2] The street was first proposed in 1767, and was initially a residential area;[2] by 2013 it had become, according to the Edinburgh Evening News, "the city’s most prestigious shopping district".[3]

Several prominent statues are located along the street, commemorating Thomas Chalmers (1780–1847), William Pitt the Younger (1759–1806), King George IV (1762–1830) and James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879). Notable buildings on George Street include St Andrew's and St George's West Church, the Assembly Rooms, The Dome the headquarters of the Church of Scotland and Freemasons' Hall the headquarters of Scottish Freemasonry.

During construction work for the Edinburgh Trams project in 2011 and 2012, George Street became an important diversionary route as the parallel Princes Street was closed to traffic;[4] a survey in April 2012, during the works, found that footfall on the street was one-third higher than during the same month in 2011, while footfall in Princes Street had declined.[5] In 2013 the street became a focal point for the Edinburgh Festival, with pedestrian areas increased and traffic space reduced.[3][6]

In October 2012, the City of Edinburgh Council approved a 12-month trial starting in June 2014 that saw George Street featuring a one way system for vehicles, and a dedicated two way bike lane. As part of this the outdoor space for restaurants and bars on this street was extended, too. On street car parking was being reviewed, and the frequency of buses on Princes street was reduced significantly.[7] The trial used an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO) as a place making and design measure. At the end of a trial using an ETRO the street has to be returned to its previous layout before the long-term plan is put to the public.[8] Ironside Farrer conducted a consultation and proposed a "continental style" solution in their report.[9] This report was discussed by the council on 7 June 2016 and the design principles approved unanimously.[10] The council have agreed that a more detailed design is to be drawn up by February 2017 covering issues around traffic flow, transport users, the built streetscape including the statues, and pedestrians.[11]

During the August 2016 festival period a new event, WestFest, took place on the most westerly block of George Street which was closed to traffic between Castle Street and Charlotte Square. The event featured a whisky experience, a mobile cinema and 9-hole mini golf as well as a temporary cafe and bar.[12] Most of the George Street restaurants had extra outdoor seating during the event.


  1. "George Street". Gazetteer for Scotland. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  2. 1 2 History
  3. 1 2 Morrison, Dawn (3 August 2013) Edinburgh Fringe descends on George Street Edinburgh Evening News
  4. Tram work diversions due to start in Edinburgh BBC News, 16 September 2011
  5. Princes Street set to reopen to traffic after 10 months The Herald, 26 June 2012
  6. Edinburgh Festival: George Street to undergo revamp BBC News, 4 July 2013
  8. CEC News Centre (11 August 2015). "Help shape the future of George Street layout". City of Edinburgh Council. Edinburgh City Council. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  9. Ferguson, Brian (6 Feb 2016). "Continental makeover planned for Edinburgh's George Street". Edinburgh Evening News. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  10. "George Street Experimental Traffic Regulation Order, Concluding Report and Design Principles". City of Edinburgh Council. CEC Transport and Environment Committee. 7 June 2016. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  11. Stephen, Phyllis (28 July 2016). "The future of George Street will be drawn up by next year". The Edinburgh Reporter. The Edinburgh Reporter. Retrieved 21 August 2016.
  12. "WestFest". Essential Edinburgh. Essential Edinburgh.

Coordinates: 55°57′10″N 3°12′01″W / 55.9529°N 3.2004°W / 55.9529; -3.2004

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