On Whitehall Street is the seat of government, Westminster Palace, or the Houses of Parliament. It is a Gothic revival building, designed by Sir Charles Barry and Augustus Pugin (who designed the interior). The building is a mass of fanciful spires and large towers. In the largest is Big Ben, the iconic clock that tolls the hour and can be heard across much of the West End and the City. Westminster Bridge crosses the Thames into Lambeth and supports much of the traf c from the southern bank into Westminster. North of the bridge, running along Whitehall to the Strand, are the major ministries of the government.
At the corner of Bridge Street and St. George Street is where the first traffic light was placed in 1868 to aid police in protecting foot traf c from the vehicles caroming about the intersection. It was originally a twenty-foot high pole with a policeman’s helmet shaped top in which was a green light to semaphore at night, informing vehicles when to stop. The light was changed to red shortly afterward. The pole also had arms that would rise when traf c was to stop. This monstrous thing was replaced with smaller stop signals in the mid-1880s that used red lights for stop and green for go; smaller arms with STOP or GO would rise in time with the lighting and were electric powered. By the middle of the 1890s, busy intersections in Westminster, Charing Cross, and Mayfair would have these signals installed, much to the annoyance of omnibus and cab drivers and to the applause of pedestrians.
The Embankment project pushed back the Thames, creating a curve of concrete terrace from Westminster Pier to Hungerford Wharf. The separate buildings of the Foreign Of ce, the India Of ce, and the Home Of ce were merged into a new neo-classical building in the 1880s and 1890s between St. James Park and Whitehall Road. Often Lord Salisbury could be found here, instead of in the Prime Minister’s of ce, during his tenure. The Admiralty building was likewise expanded in after 1895 and nearly quadrupled in size. The Indian Museum went up early in the project and would have the new War Of ce parked alongside at the end of the century (on the original site of Scotland Yard.
The nal monument of note is Trafalgar Square, at the north end of Whitehall, where it splits into Cockspur Street and the Strand. Here a large open square has a massive stature to Lord Nelson’s victory in 1807. There are a series of fountains that have been installed that draw people from the neighbourhood to get water. Large hotels surround Trafalgar Square and are some of the nest in the City.