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No smiles here
No smiles here
Big Ben
Piccadilly Circus

Monopoly Board London

Thursday, July 31, 2003
First, set the board up. Second, roll that dice. Third … let's hit Mayfair, coz we're about to the play real life Monopoly!

Even though Monopoly was created in the US, the version which was sold in Australia had streets, railway stations and utilities from London. For many Australians, this was how they learnt a little about real estate, making and losing money, how to avoid imprisonment and something about the geography of England's capital city!

Charles Darrow from Pennsylvania first presented his idea to Parker Brothers in 1934, but they rejected it on the grounds of there being "52 design errors". He pressed on with 5000 handmade sets, demand grew and it is now sold in 80 countries in 26 languages. An estimated 500 million people have played the game. Twenty million sets of London Monopoly have been sold since 1935.

Getaway rolled the dice and landed on some of the well-known properties.

Whitechapel Road, one of the two brown cards, was built in the 15th century for trades such as metal working. For the last 200 years it has been the heart of some of London's immigrant communities. The Russian Society Democratic Party Congress was held there with Lenin, Trotsky and Stalin, in the 1930s its Jewish community was subject to the terror of Moseley's blackshirts and it was the centre of Sylvia Pankhurst's suffragette movement.

Old Kent Road was always a hotbed of religious and political ideas, starting with Wat Tyler's involvement in the poll tax uprising in the 13th century. In the 16th century it was a major highway for pilgrims going to and coming from Canterbury.

The three pale blue cards are Euston Road, which runs from Kings Cross to Great Portland Street. This was built as a main thoroughfare in 1756; Pall Mall, named after a game similar to croquet and most famously associated with 18th and 19th-century gentlemen's clubs; and The Angel Islington, the first gas-lit street in London.

Northumberland Avenue, built in 1876, connects Trafalgar Square to the Embankment and was home to the Metropolitan Police between 1829 and 1891. John Milton and Inigo Jones also lived there.

Trafalgar Square has been important to London since the ninth century and in the Middle Ages was known as Charing. It was an important meeting place due to its location between the old city of London, the Royal Palace and the Abbey of Westminster.

The Sherlock Holmes is one of London's most famous pubs. It was there that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote many of his stories and some his original scripts remain.

Whitehall, the other pink card, was a focal point of the English Civil War, which resulted in the execution of Charles I in 1649. The wide and graceful thoroughfare is dominated by grand government buildings and Downing Street, home of the prime minister.

The three orange properties are Vine Street, Bow Street and Marlborough Street.

Henry Fielding's red-vested Bow Street Runners were London's first band of constables, established in the 1750s. Marlborough Street, now home to chartered accountants and film production companies, housed Percy Shelly in 1811 and Franz Liszt in 1840. Fleet Street and The Strand are red. Fleet Street was once the home of newspapers. The street became the haunt of such people as William Shakespeare, Ben Jonson, Samuel Pepys, Samuel Johnson, Mark Twain and Charles Dickens.

The Strand was made famous by its extravagant riverside mansions and is now just a busy thoroughfare between Westminster and Holborn. The Savoy, the art deco Adelphi Theatre and Somerset House are stylish buildings which survived. Somerset House has major art exhibitions from around the world. Many of John Nash's 18th-century terraces have been demolished or clumsily remodelled.

The yellow Coventry Street was built in 1681 and has long been a place of entertainment, but in 1846 was known as a place of bad character, whereas Leicester Square was known for gentry housing, hotels, Turkish baths and was home to Isaac Newton and Joshua Reynolds. Today it is reserved for pedestrians and is the heart of London's West End entertainment industry.

Piccadilly, also yellow, is named from a frilled collar called a piccadil, created in the 17th century by a local dressmaker. Piccadilly Circus, built in 1819, lost its circular form in 1886. In 1823 roller skates were patented there and in 1893 a bronze fountain topped with a winged archer, Eros, was built as a memorial to the seventh Earl of Shaftesbury.

The three green streets are Regent, Oxford and Bond.

The broad Regent Street was designed by John Nash, a favourite of King George IV. In the 19th century it became one of Europe's most famous streets, attracting aristocracy, gentry and shoppers seeking luxury merchandise. That continues today.

Oxford Street is Europe's longest shopping thoroughfare and was named for the Earls of Oxford, who owned the land around it in the 16th century.

Bond Street, named after the financial controller of the Queen's household at the court of King Charles I, was swampy and uninhabited. Highwaymen preyed on passers-by in the 17th century. Now it is where the rich buy clothing, jewellery and attend auctions for rare and precious goods … also paying a king's ransom.

Park Lane is blue and has been one of London's most fashionable streets since the 1820s. It was almost law that residents had to be rich and titled to be seen there. Now it mainly consists of hotels and car showrooms.

Mayfair, also blue, is the most expensive card on the Monopoly board and that is echoed in real life. It is bounded by Oxford and Regent Streets, Piccadilly and Park Lane. Originally the site for the May fair, from which its name came, it is now a fashionable district with the most expensive retail shopping in the UK.

Brown's, London's most historic five-star hotel, is the epitome of English elegance. It opened in 1837 and has wood panelling, open fireplaces and graceful antiques. It is said to serve London's best afternoon tea.

The card to avoid, Go to Jail, is represented by a visit to London Dungeon, under the arches of London Bridge station. It is a museum of historical horrors, with live actors and wax figures telling the blood-curdling stories of London's past. They cover the Great Fire, the Great Plague and the 19th-century Jack the Ripper stories.

The game's railway stations can be visited by riding the very efficient Tube and of course the utility cards, water and electricity, benefit everyone, every day.

If you are in London during thirsty weather, a day's outing to consider is the Monopoly Board pub crawl.

Dr Ralph Anspach, an economics professor, invented and released a board game called Anti-Monopoly.

This led to Dr Anspach facing a lawsuit against America's 57th-largest corporation. The 10-year court battle saw the production of Anti-Monopoly being ruled against twice, resulting in 40,000 games being buried in a Minnesota landfill. Dr Anspach faced losing his home. In 1984 the US Supreme Court handed down a victory and half a million Anti-Monopoly games were sold that year.


The streets of London


Brown's Hotel rooms are around $710 and a suite costs $1200.
The London Dungeon costs around $32 for adults and $22 for children. It is open every day.
Qantas flies daily to London, starting at $2200 from Perth, $2272 from Melbourne, $2282 from Brisbane and Darwin, $2288 from Adelaide and $2292 from Sydney, per person. Prices include charges/taxes and are current at time of writing, but may vary at time of booking. Seasonal surcharges and conditions apply.

More information

Brown's Hotel
Albermarle Street, Mayfair W1
Ph: 44 020 7493 6020

The London Dungeon
28-34 Tooley Street, London SE1
Ph: 44 020 7403 7221, Fax: 44 020 7378 1529

Sherlock Holmes Pub
10 Northumberland Street, London WC2
Ph: 44 020 7930 2644, Ph: 44 020 7839 5864

Qantas: 13 13 13

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