London

In Boswell's time London was the de facto capital of the world. When Boswell first visited London it must have had about 750.000 inhabitants - today it has ten times that number.

Russell Street, London

Location in Boswell's time: 

Russell Street was built in the 1630s, named after the Russells, Earls and Dukes of Bedford, and it soon became popular due to it's vicinity to Drury Lane, the Covent Garden piazza and later the Theatre Royal at Covent Garden built in 1732.

In 1763 Mortimer's Universal Director of Trades listed nine residents in the street: an engraver, a music-master, a printer, a clockmaker, a distiller, a metal-button maker, two apothecaries and a grocer. On the street was also Tom's (at No. 17) and the Turk's Head (at or near No. 20), both popular coffee houses. The latter should not be confused with the Turk's Head at Gerrard Street, the regular meeting place of the literary club.

It was in No. 8, in Thomas Davies bookshop, that Boswell and Johnson met for the first time on May 16, 1763. Thomas Davies had lived there since 1760 and would continue to do so until his death in 1785.

The location today: 

The very building that was in the 1760s the site of Thomas Davies old bookshop at no. 8 is today home to Balthazar Boulangerie, a trendy patisserie serving cakes, sweets and sandwiches all day (http://balthazarlondon.com/boulangerie/), which should not be confused with it's "mother" the Balthazar Restaurant on the actual corner of Russell Street and Covent Garden. On the street is also the Fortune Theatre (built 1924 on the site of the old Albion Tavern). On the corner of Russell Street and Catherine Street is also the third reincarnation of the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane.

Association with Boswell: 

Boswell knew Thomas Davies since 1760, and visited his bookshop occasionally during his stay in London 1762-63. It was here that he met Robert Dodsley, Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Johnson for the first time.

Locations: 

Downing Street, London

Location in Boswell's time: 

Downing Street, adjacent to Whitehall, was built in the 1680s by Sir George Downing (1623-1684), 1st Baronet of East Hatley. It soon became a center of power and Downing Street no. 10 has been the official residence of the British Prime Minister since 1735.

In the 1760s, when Boswell lived there,  it was home to the Office of Plantations and to some private housing, accomodating among others civil servants from the various government offices in the vicinity.

The location today: 

Access to Downing Street by the general public was restricted in the 1970s and further tightened in 1982 and 1989.

The street itself bears little resemblence to how it looked in the 1760s.The houses between Number 10 and Whitehall were taken over by the government and demolished in 1824 to allow the construction of the Privy Council Office, Board of Trade and Treasury offices.

In 1861 the houses on the west side of Downing Street gave way to new purpose-build government offices for the Foreign Office, India Office, Colonial Office and the Home Office. 

Association with Boswell: 

Boswell rented a room in the house of Thomas Terrie in Downing Street from November 26, 1762 until July 7, 1763.

Locations: 

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