Back Alley, EC3N

Road in/near City of London, existing until now

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Road · City of London · EC3N ·

Back Alley is a small alleyway off of Northumberland Alley.

How we love to use figurative terms of description; they form such a distinctive part of our daily life that we would probably experience great difficulty if they were somehow barred from our vocabulary. Nicknames applied to friends (or enemies), relating to some particular feature of their make-up or a habit is an easy method of making reference to certain persons. For generations people have used terms and names of endearment in casual conversation and the necessity for such usage was even more so in times past than it is now.

Back Alley has been here, under the same name, for centuries and was quite simply the back access passage to houses on Aldgate, and because at that time it had no name, it was figuratively referred to as the ’Back Alley’. It now runs along the rear of the General Accident Insurance Company and, although it is still fairly narrow, its dimensions have been greatly increased over the years. Whereas there would have been many gateways along here in times past, there are now no access doors at all.

There were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of ’back’s’ in London but nearly all have long since been renamed or demolished and only one other survivor remains in the City: Back Hill, Clerkenwell.

In all parts of the country there are still un-named alleys at the rear of houses and in some areas the term ’backs’ is in use to this day. Gully, jitty, ginnel, entry, are all terms used to describe a minor thoroughfare without any formal name.

Many of London’s access roads and even some of today’s main roads started out as nothing more than narrow passages leading to back entrances of houses on major highways. As we walk around London, many of these are easily identifiable but others are not nearly so obvious.

Wandering down some of London’s ’back alleys’ can certainly be a satisfying and fascinating experience but there have always been those alleys where passage without necessity has been avoided like the dreaded plague. During the hours of darkness, narrow alleys behind old houses, where antiquated lamps give off poor lighting, or worst still, illumination is none existent, are all too frequently no-go areas. This situation not only applies to modern times, it has always been like that. Dingy black corners were the ideal lurking grounds for thieves and those intent on having a ’good time’ at the terrifying expense of their victims. Beware!

Citation information: The alleyways and courtyards of London » The Underground Ma
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City of London

The City of London constituted most of London from its settlement by the Romans in the 1st century AD to the Middle Ages, but the conurbation has since grown far beyond its borders.

As the City's boundaries have remained almost unchanged since the Middle Ages, it is now only a tiny part of the metropolis of Greater London, though it remains a notable part of central London. It holds city status in its own right and is also a separate ceremonial county.

It is widely referred to as 'The City' (often written on maps as City and differentiated from the phrase 'the city of London') or 'the Square Mile' as it is 1.12 square miles in area. These terms are also often used as metonyms for the United Kingdom's financial services industry, which continues a notable history of being largely based in the City.

The local authority for the City, the City of London Corporation, is unique in the UK and has some unusual responsibilities for a local council, such as being the police authority. It also has responsibilities and ownerships beyond the City's boundaries. The Corporation is headed by the Lord Mayor of the City of London, an office separate from (and much older than) the Mayor of London.

The City is a major business and financial centre, ranking as the world's leading centre of global finance. Throughout the 19th century, the City was the world's primary business centre, and continues to be a major meeting point for businesses.

The City had a resident population of about 7000 in 2011 but over 300,000 people commute to it and work there, mainly in the financial services sector. The legal profession forms a major component of the northern and western sides of the City - especially in the Temple and Chancery Lane areas where the Inns of Court are located, of which two—Inner Temple and Middle Temple - fall within the City of London boundary.
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