Why London is actually a city within a city

Elegant waste bin with City of London embossed on it and a coat of arms

You might have heard about people working in ‘the City’. But what does this mean?

‘The City’ is short for ‘the City of London’. But the City of London is not the same as London, capital of the UK. Instead, it lies inside it. The City of London is home to many banks and finance houses, which is why it is often in the news. Many of Britain’s best-paid jobs are found there, but unlike historical times there are few people who actually live there now.

The history of the City of London starts in Roman times. Romans founded a settlement called Londonium in about ACE 43. It grew into a walled city.

About 1,000 years later, King Edward the Confessor built an abbey to the west near his new royal palace. It was known as the ‘west minster’ (west church). Over time, Westminster became a separate city to the west. It took hundreds of years before the cities grew together.

Remains of the old City of London lie in the small area around Liverpool Street station. This area is sometimes called the ‘Square Mile’ because it is about 1 mile wide by 1 mile long. Some of the city wall still survives, while the names Moorgate, Aldgate and Bishopsgate show where there were entrances.

The City of London still has its own mayor, called the Lord Mayor of London (not the same as the Mayor of London). The Lord Mayor is the head of the City of London Corporation, selected from elected councillors called Aldermen. The Lord Mayor’s official residence is the Mansion House. It even has its own police service, the City of London Police (the police service for the rest of London is known as the Metropolitan Police, or Met Police).

The Corporation of London has a long and complex history, and operates different to other city councils in the UK. You know when you are in the City of London because there are red and white logos on buildings, street signs, street lights and even waste bins, such as the one pictured.

Read more about the City of London on the official website.

Image: Yiangki Suara/Unsplash

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