In 1666 fire devastated Stuart London, destroying 80% of the city.
The Great Fire of London
BY DAVID ROSS, EDITOR
On the night of September 2, 1666, a small fire broke out in the premises of a baker's shop in Pudding Lane, London, perhaps started by the carelessness of a maid.
If it was carelessness, it was carelessness that had enormous and disastrous consequences, for the fire spread and soon the whole building was alight. In the close-packed streets of London, where buildings jostled each other for space, the blaze soon became an inferno. Fanned by an east wind, the fire spread with terrifying speed, feeding on the tar and pitch commonly used to seal houses.
Well, one person's disaster is another person's opportunity. Within days of the fire's end, Christopher Wren submitted plans to Charles II for the complete rebuilding of the city. Wren's grand scheme called for cutting wide avenues through the former warren of alleys and byways that had made up old London, opening up the city to light and air as it were.
Charles liked the scheme, but he realized that the expense and the neccessity of rebuilding as fast as possible made it unworkable. Instead, he appointed Wren to rebuild the city's churches, including St. Paul's, a position the young architect filled brilliantly over the next fifty years.
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