Ghosts of the past on Google Streetview

I’m a bit of a Suede fan so YouTube often throws Suede videos at me like a bored petulant schoolchild throwing paper at his teacher. This morning it coughed up Electricity at me, one of their songs from 1999.

The video was film by the sadly departed Astoria club on Tottenham Court Road, and in Falconberg Court, one of those wonderful old London alleyways, which near places like the Astoria used to reek of the history of the place through the smell of sex, urine and kebabs.

I thought I’d see what it looked like on Street View and got this.

The image is from October 2008 when the Astoria was being (in my view, disgracefully) ripped down to make way for Crossrail. This is no longer what this part of London looks like, but Streetview contains this ghost of what was once there and through that it provides an idea of what was lost.

In fact Google has thousands of such images from around the world sitting there reminding us of our mortality, what we’ve lost and how things are changing sometimes for the worst to be recorded in every gory digital detail. We can be reminded of pouring out onto a bust London street at 3am working out whether to make one’s way back to wherever you were sleeping that night, or to stumble into Soho, Camden or somewhere outwith Zone One or Two to carry on drinking and not caring about running the risk of a lengthy treatment of anti-biotics.

These shadows of the past will linger reminding us of better days. Google may have it’s issues, but I for one welcome these reminders of memories that twinge like phantom limbs upon viewing them. In fact you could even write a song about it…

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3 thoughts on “Ghosts of the past on Google Streetview

  1. It is a tragic waste, as Crossrail devours huge swathes of living history – the Astoria, Denmark Street, and many others. London has always been about change, I suppose, but the loss of so many places of character is like watching the slow death of an old friend – although some of Sohos darker corners are probably best as memories..- Thanks for this well written piece, Glenn

    Liked by 1 person

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