|London in the 1600s.|
The exhibition shows how in the year 1500, London was a medieval capital which about 50,000 called home. Two centuries later, it was a sprawling, early modern metropolis with almost half a million residents (today London's population is 8.1 million), the seat of an emerging empire, abuzz with international commerce and new political and religious ideas.
So how did it change so much so fast? And what was it like to live there while it did? Open City explores these questions through rare books, plays, manuscripts, maps, diaries, prints, artifacts, and replicas.
The story is told through an examination of 3 public spaces:
- the church
- the theater
- the marketplace
But soon, across the city proper on the banks of the Thames River, new theaters - including the now world-famous Globe - arose. At the time, boosters of the city hoped theater could be used "to bring the world to London." The advent of the press with its ensuing proliferation of portfolios, pamphlets, broadsheets, and books created the 1st virtual public gathering place and sparked new ideas in commerce, travel, government, and religion.
In 1665, London endured a devastating plague that more than tripled the death rate. A year later, the Great Fire killed still more, while destroying 130,000 homes and structures. Shaken, but resilient, London began rebuilding and expanding, an expansion that continues today.
Tales, Tidbits, and Tips
Unless you are reading this in London, you probably won't be able to see Olympic London, but if you want to get a taste of a much earlier London, you have until September 30th to visit the Shakespeare Library and see Open City.