London has hundreds of landmarks including Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Big Ben, the London Eye and many more.

But, among the landmarks with seemingly obvious reasons for their fame, some offer a more obscure but just as fascinating history.

Including none other than Piccadilly Circus, which to many might just seem like any normal road junction (although some do believe it is a real circus).

But, the popular tourist spot offers a unique history that makes it stand out among London's many landmarks.

What is Piccadilly Circus famous for?

Piccadilly Circus was once a quiet residential area before it became a buzzing area for shops and entertainment in the 19th century. 

As the area grew in popularity, with theatres and restaurants attracting many visitors, the area became the busier part of the West End.

Ilford Recorder: Piccadilly Circus at night.Piccadilly Circus at night. (Image: getty)

Although a road junction, Piccadilly Circus is best known for its wrap-around video display that has often been compared to New York City's Times Square.

The video display is typically used for advertisement and first appeared in 1908 before electric billboards were set up in 1923.

In 2011, LED displays replaced the neon lamps on the signs before they were again replaced in 2017 with high-density LED displays.

How did Piccadilly Circus get its name?

The name Piccadilly Circus does not link to any real circus but instead a tailor and the ancient language of Latin.

'Piccadilly' comes from a 17th-century tailor, Robert Baker, who at the time sold a style of a collar called a 'Picadils'.

In 1612, Baker built a mansion north of what is now Piccadilly Circus thanks to the wealth he made from the Picadil collar - the collar made Baker so much fame and wealth he named his new mansion after the design, Picadil Hall.


Soon after, the name Piccadilly became popular among locals in the area and has stuck ever since.

Whilst 'Circus' comes from the Latin word 'circle' that refers to the circular road design of the landmark.

The street of Piccadilly Circus was once called 'Portugal Street' for Queen Catherine of Braganza, the Portuguese wife of King Charles II.