Before the USA was even a thing, Americans had begun to abandon the New World for London. Pocahontas moved here after marrying John Rolfe. Benjamin Franklin lived in a house just off the Strand for 16 years, trying to mend the fractious relationship between the colonies and the mother country.
History will tell you that he failed – 1776 and all that. But since then, thousands of Americans have returned to the Big Smoke: among them Henry James, Wallis Simpson, Jimi Hendrix, Kevin Spacey and nearly 64,000 expats today (many working in the City or on behalf of the US government).
This July 4 we’ll celebrate our rebellious streak, with the traditional apple pie, fireworks and cries of ‘Amurrica, fuck yeah!’ But on every other day of the year, we celebrate a relationship that continues to be special – no matter what our president and your mayor have to say about one another. Charlie McCann
Did you know? In the Revolutionary War, the British freed any male slaves who fought for them. Many enlisted, and when the defeated Brits withdrew, around 14,000 black ex-slaves came with them – many settling in London.
Charlie’s favourite American places in London
There’s this place called McDonald’s that serves really authentic American cuisine. But for someplace less depressing, head over to Covent Garden: the hot dogs and ice cream sandwiches at Christopher’s will make you see stars and stripes.
At 36 Craven Street is Benjamin Franklin House. The Founding Father was sent to London to petition the King on behalf of the colonies and, later, to reconcile the two parties. As such, the Grade I-listed house is the first de facto US embassy. Guided tours are available.
Panzer’s in St John’s Wood stocks French’s mustard, saltines, A1 Steak Sauce, Goldfish, root beer and Crisco: perfect for July 4.
London galleries can’t move for American art at the moment. Alice Neel is at Victoria Miro; ‘Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power’ opens at Tate Modern this month; and Jasper Johns and Basquiat hit the RA and Barbican this autumn.
The best of American London, according to you
‘Stagolee’s in Fulham: newly opened with American staff. I’m from the US and this is real-deal southern comfort.’ Gaby B via timeout.com
‘Maxwell’s in Covent Garden for amazing American freakshakes!’ Lucry Alfa via Facebook
‘Got to be The Fat Bear on Carter Lane.’ Phil Stott via Facebook
‘George Washington’s statue by the National Gallery is placed on a patch of Virginia soil. Apparently he said he would never set foot in Britain again and we took him at his word!’ Samantha C via timeout.com