The Problem With Tourist London

(This was an ‘insight’ I had last night in the pub, and we know all about those. I am not convinced of it but I throw it open to discussion.)

Most major and middling European cities from Bilbao to Tallinn have their complement of castles, palaces, museums and landmarks to snare the tourists. London of course has more than its share of these. But other cities also tend to have an ‘old town’ – a city heart that visitors are encouraged to wander in, with the promise (however false) of vibrancy and the authentic. I don’t believe London has one. The oldest parts of the city have turned into The City and tourists are not especially encouraged to stray from its specific landmarks. Old towns in other cities provide a place where the city-as-destination and the city-as-home can mix and find an accord: in London, though, the tourist draws feel unrelated to the rest of the city, a glitzy overlay of heritage.