It is thought to take its name from a Greek church that was built in 1677 in adjacent Crown Street, now part of the west side of Charing Cross
Road. The church is depicted in William Hogarth’s ’Noon’ from Four Times of the Day.
Although the street has several houses from the 18th century and earlier, it is mainly 19th-century in appearance. The street crosses Manette Street
, Bateman Street
, Old Compton Street
and Romilly Street
1 Greek Street is the House of St Barnabas, built in 1746. It became the offices of the Westminster Commissioner for Works for Sewers in 1811. This is where Chief Engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette started to work on the construction of the London sewerage system. By 1862 the house had been taken over by The House of Charity, which was established in 1846 to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people. Charles Dickens used the house and gardens as a model for the London lodgings of Dr Manette and Lucy in A Tale of Two Cities.
There has been a public house known as Pillars of Hercules at no. 7 since 1733. The current pub building sports some artwork by Invader and was long favoured by many figures in the London literary scene, including Martin Amis, Ian Hamilton, Julian Barnes and Ian McEwan. Indeed, Clive James named his second book of literary criticism (At the Pillars of Hercules) after it.
In the mid-eighteenth century, no. 9 was the location of the Turk’s Head Tavern, where a well-known lodge of Freemasons met. The Ancient Grand Lodge of England was organized there on 17 July 1751.
The Coach and Horses pub (also known as Norman’s), famous for the rudeness of its former landlord Norman Balon, is at no. 29, at the corner with Romilly Street
. The fortnightly editorial lunch of Private Eye is held in the Coach and Horses. There has been a public house of that name on the site since the 1720s.
The street is the setting for the 1930 film Greek Street, directed by Sinclair Hill and starring Sari Maritza and William Freshman.
In the 1971 film Villain, the crime lord Vic Dakin (Richard Burton) recommends Greek Street as a venue of prostitution. "Try the Manhattan Club in Greek Street... lot of ’sunburnt’ girls there... for twenty quid they’ll do anything... enjoy yourself!"
Greek Street is now known for its selection of restaurants and cafes.