Identity Crisis: The Post-WWII Reconstruction of the City of London
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In a single night in December 1940, German bombs reduced more than a third of Britain’s most historic square mile to blackened rubble, destroying countless architectural treasures and inexorably altering the City of London’s character. In this immense devastation postwar planners saw a unique opportunity to reinvent the Empire’s ancient cultural and financial hub as a soaring modern metropolis. Through examination of original planning proposals and public opinions expressed in the era’s journalism, this thesis attempts to explain why the City’s postwar architecture — initially lauded by the public for its striking modernity — soon became so unpopular that it initiated a cycle of redevelopment that continues to this day. Ultimately this thesis argues that dissatisfaction with the City’s postwar architecture mirrors Britain’s ongoing postwar identity crisis. With its loss of empire and position on the world stage, Britain is left with an economic center and nostalgia for the past.