Queen Street

Pedimented entrance in Queen Street
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Pedimented entrance in Queen Street

Forming the northern side of James Craig's plan for Edinburgh's first New Town, Queen Street is the mirror of Princes Street to the south. As such, it is developed only on its southern side, with Queen Street Gardens on the northern side and a fine aspect over the Firth of Forth. The street is noted as the longest parade of 18th Century architecture in Edinburgh and was named in honour of Queen Charlotte of Mecklenberg, the consort of George III.

It was originally laid out along four blocks between 1768 and 1792, with the first house (No. 8) being designed by the noted architect Robert Adam (1728-92). This house is now occupied by the General Medical Council in Scotland. Other notable buildings include the Royal College of Physicians, designed by Thomas Hamilton (1784 - 1858) in 1833. No.4 was once part of the Philosophical Institute, altered by David Bryce (1803-76) and later by George Washington Browne (1853 - 1939), for a long time the BBC studios in Edinburgh until these moved to Holyrood in 2002. No.19 was home to Sydney Smith (1771 - 1845), co-founder of the Edinburgh Review. Simpson House (at No.52) was once the home of obstetrician James Young Simpson (1811-70), while No.53 was home to literary critic Professor John Wilson (1785 - 1854). Judge and another founder of the Edinburgh Review, Lord Jeffrey (1773 - 1850), lived at No.62 and later physicist Sir John Leslie (1766 - 1832) lived at the same address. No.66 was built for General Sir Ralph Abercromby (1734 - 1801). At the extreme eastern end is York Place, noted for the Venetian-Gothic architecture of the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and as the terminus of the Edinburgh tram line, which opened in 2014. Erskine House, an inoffensive modern office block built in 1964, lies as the western end of Queen Street, but that is notable only for the gas flares which emanate from torches either side of the entrance. It replaced the old Mary Erskine's School (built 1913).

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