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Leicester Square is one of the oldest squares in London and was named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester. The origins of Leicester Square go back to the building of Leicester House in 1635 for Sidney. In a dispute about common land. Lord Leicester was ordered to keep part of his land open, this land was originally known as Leicester Fields and later as Leicester Square. Gradually other large houses were built around the square and became quite a fashionable area, in the 18th century, William Hogarth and Joshua Reynolds lived around the square.
Leicester Square 1750
By the end of the 18th century, the square began to be used for public entertainments. This trend carried on into the 19th century with shops, museums and exhibitions dominating the square. A number of hotels were later established around the square attracting a large number of foreign visitors.
The large Alhambra Theatre was built-in 1854 dominated until it burned down in 1882 and was then rebuilt. Other theatres were built but gradually were replaced by large cinemas.
In the 21st century it was redeveloped as a general entertainment area. The cinemas around the square are often used for film premieres and attract some of the biggest names in film.
In the 1870s, A statue of William Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins was constructed in the centre. Near the statute is the TKTS booth in Leicester Square which is the only official place to purchase cheap theatre tickets in the West End. Other unofficial booths have grown up around the square offering tickets but generally sell at a higher rate than official outlets.
Leicester Square is one of those areas that is often seen as part of the centre of London, but is generally more popular with visitors than Londoners. The restaurants and gift shops around and near Leicester Square almost exclusively cater for the many visitors who frequent the area.
The nearest tube station is Leicester Square tube station.
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