What a difference two-thirds of a century makes. This photo was taken from the dome of St Paul's Cathedral some time after the devastating air raid on the night of 29 December 1940, looking north-north-west. I think the street running diagonally from the lower-right hand corner is Paternoster Row, which had long been the centre of London's publishing trade.

North-north-west from Dome of St Paul's

And the following one was taken in August 2007, from the same place and in roughly the same direction (more N-W than N-N-W). Paternoster Row has gone, and has been replaced by Paternoster Square.

Paternoster Square, 2007

In fact, there aren't many features common to both photos. That's not only Goering's fault, but also that of the post-war urban planners who intentionally obliterated what was left of the old street plan. (And they were apparently inspired by Stalin and Le Corbusier.) The whole area was re-redeveloped around the turn of the millennium, by all accounts a vast improvement.

Image sources: M. J. Bernard Davy, Air Power and Civilization (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1941), facing 144 (1940); me (2007).

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at

4 thoughts on “Paternosters

  1. George Shaner

    A 20th century artist coopted by the Surrealists and given to painting windy, existential cityscapes.

    What can I say? I mispent my adolesence studying art and memorizing Jane's Fighting Ships, as opposed to chasing girls and playing sports.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *