150 years ago today, on the 9th January 1863, the first stretch of the London Underground opened for the public between Paddington and Farringdon Station (just next to Future of London’s offices today). A group of dignitaries rode the first underground railway in the world on the relatively short five mile journey, a precursor to today’s Metropolitan line, and regular passenger journeys began the following day.
Over the century and a half since its inauguration, the London Underground has served as a key artery for London. It has set a template for other cities around the world to follow, and has even inspired a number of artists. The iconic modern tube map, very useful for travellers but far from geographically accurate, originated with the draftsman Harry Beck in 1931 and has continued to be updated to the current day.
In all ways, London Underground does not stand still, and is currently used on average by around 3.5 million people every day. As the population of the Capital is expected to grow by a million people over the next twenty years, the Underground is undergoing a massive upgrade programme, one of the largest and most complex engineering projects in the world.
Future of London’s member Transport for London will be publishing 150 facts you might not know about the Underground throughout the year. You can follow them on Twitter and like their page on Facebook to get these updates.