Urbanism | Exploring London’s layers through The Blitz
I have a deep fascination with maps and mapping and am always on the lookout for interesting ones. So I was delighted, when thanks to The Monocle (one of my all time favourite magazines) I came across this interactive map at bombsight.org that shows every single bomb that was dropped on London by the Luftwaffe during The Blitz in the Second World War between 7th October 1940 and 6th June 1941.
At its zoomed out version, it shocks and boggles the mind, because it looks like not one inch of London was spared – to look at the visual depiction of the sheer number of bombs that fell on the city is staggering, and for people like me, who have thankfully not directly experienced war, simply unimaginable.
Beyond the morbid study though, the map also serves another purpose for the curious urbanist when you zoom in to street level. Since it gives precise locations of where the bombs fell, it can serve as a fascinating tool to walk around the city with, and to explore the physical layers of development and redevelopment that took place because of the Blitz. Much of the city was destroyed and subsequently rebuilt, but then again, a lot escaped ruin and has been preserved. It would explain the harshness of a ’50’s concrete block set right against an elegant Georgian facade, and how sometimes walking through the city can be a startling study in physical contrasts.
Interestingly, I traced my footsteps around London with it and it turns out I have so far never lived on a bomb-hit street. Let’s hope that doesn’t change.