Where once were fruit sellers and prostitutes (enough to necessitate an annually published directory with a print run of 8,000 in the late eighteenth century), the streets of Covent Garden are now a hotbed of tourists, shoppers and the occasional gold-painted twit. Why the shift? The departure of the central market in 1974 saw the cart-dragging merchants on their way, with the vacant space divvied up between commercial developers and cultural institutions.
All of the images below were taken by photographer and Covent Garden historian Clive Boursnell, who recreated scenes from his archive of images from the late '60s and '70s for his book 'Covent Garden: Then & Now'.
Use the slider handles on the images below to flick between past and present. Got an old photo of London we should re-shoot for our next gallery? Tweet at @TimeOutLondon.
Piazza from James Street
Entertainers in east piazza
Urban Outfitters, Earlham Street
Tube station and James Street
Paul Hamlyn Hall
Fossil, James Street
Pictures from 'Covent Garden: Then & Now' by Clive Boursnell, published by Frances Lincoln at £14.99.
More then and now galleries
Icon Balcony Bar
The Icon Balcony Bar is part of the Casino at the Empire complex. The candlelit cocktail lounge, with a balcony overlooking Leicester Square, is decorated in a style reminiscent of a French boudoir, with chandeliers, antique wallpaper, exposed brickwork and opulent crimson furnishings. The bar has an eclectic drinks list including boutique beers from around the world, plus a decent wine selection. Classic cocktails also feature – think black russians, mojitos, cosmopolitans, Champagne cocktails and old fashioneds.