Google Street View Gets a Thames'-Eye View of London

1 - Google Street View Gets a Thames'-Eye View of London
2 - Tower Bridge Looms Large Ahead
3 - The Crown Jewels Are Safe in the Tower of London
4 - Londoners Give Their Skyscrapers Nicknames
5 - City Hall Is Called Other Names
6 - The Shard Scrapes London's Skies
7 - Turning a Power Factory Into an Art Gallery
8 - Domes and Bridges From Different Centuries
9 - The London Eye Looks Out Over the City
10 - Don't Forget the Palace of Westminster
11 - James Bond Fans Will Recognize This
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Google Street View Gets a Thames'-Eye View of London

by Nathan Eddy

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Tower Bridge Looms Large Ahead

The combined bascule and suspension bridge crosses the river close to the Tower of London and is an iconic feature of the London skyline. Construction started in 1886 but took years to finish; in 1894, the future King Edward VI, then known as the Prince of Wales, finally opened the bridge.

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The Crown Jewels Are Safe in the Tower of London

While it can't compete, height-wise, with the 21th century towers that pierce the gray London skies these days, this historic castle on the north bank of the river was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 1988. The construction of skyscrapers nearby has pushed the Tower toward being added to the United Nations' Heritage in Danger List.

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Londoners Give Their Skyscrapers Nicknames

On the left is the "Walkie-Talkie," recently called the "Walkie-Scorchie," after it was discovered that the sun reflecting off the building's curved steel sides was melting cars on the street. In the middle is the sloping, cross-braced "Cheese Grater." On the right is the "Gherkin," a bullet-shaped edifice (considered one of the city's best high-rises).

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City Hall Is Called Other Names

Designed by Norman Foster (of Gherkin fame) and opened in July 2002, City Hall, located on the river's south bank, has been given various nicknames—some not so polite—from architecture critics and local citizens.

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The Shard Scrapes London's Skies

Far and away the tallest building in London, this 87-storey skyscraper stands 1,004 feet high and was designed by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. The skyscraper, which the Middle Eastern state of Qatar co-owns, sits largely empty at the moment, though the observation deck, which spans four floors, has been popular with tourists.

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Turning a Power Factory Into an Art Gallery

Looming over the South Bank is the Tate Modern, Britain's national gallery of international modern art. The popular gallery receives around 4.7 million visitors per year. It is based in the former Bankside Power Station, where the Turbine Hall, which once housed the electricity generators of the old station, offers a five-storey tall exhibition space.

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Domes and Bridges From Different Centuries

The dome of Christopher Wren's St. Paul's Cathedral, at 365 feet high, was the tallest building in London from 1710 to 1962. Erected on the highest point in London, the building is one of the city's most recognizable and important landmarks. Seen overhead to the right is the Millennium Bridge, a steel suspension bridge for pedestrians that connects St. Paul's and London's cathedral of modern art, the Tate.

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The London Eye Looks Out Over the City

Standing 443 feel tall, the Eye was built in 1999 and was the tallest Ferris wheel in the world until 2006. The structure has since sunk to third place, thanks to wheels in Nanchang, China, and Singapore. The London Eye is the U.K.'s most popular paid tourist attraction and is the focal point of the city's New Year celebration.

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Don't Forget the Palace of Westminster

Arguably London's most recognizable landmark, the Palace of Westminster, commonly known as the Houses of Parliament, features the impressive Elizabeth Tower, which is topped by an enormous clock and houses Big Ben, the great bell of the clock. The tower, completed in 1858, celebrated its 150th anniversary in 2009.

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James Bond Fans Will Recognize This

The SIS Building, known to James Bond fans as the MI6 Building, is the headquarters of the British Secret Intelligence Service, and home office of 007. The iconic structure has appeared in Bond films, including "GoldenEye," "Tomorrow Never Dies," "The World Is Not Enough," "Die Another Day," and "Skyfall."

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