National Geographic : 1966 Jun
them," a cabbie once said to me. Obviously he had a profound insight into the American character. And, although it was not planned for the convenience of Americans, some of London's most historic places-the Tower, remnants of the Roman Wall, Guildhall, St. Paul's, Parliament, Westminster Abbey-lie within easy cab distance, or even walking distance, of one another in the venerable City of London or the City of Westminster. "City" Survives From Roman Times In pursuit of an earlier article, I got to know the City of London well.* It is so small, only one square mile, that a visitor can get on quite intimate terms with it. A Britisher will refer to it simply as the City, with a capital "C," and everyone knows he means the oldest part of London, extending back to Roman and medieval times, once a walled city and still a political entity maintaining its old boundaries. Here the Lord Mayor of London presides with medieval pomp and ceremony (pages 746-7). One might well wonder why there should 770 be two cities-within-a -city: the Square Mile, as it is often called, and adjoining Westmin ster, which together comprise the very heart of London. But, as A. G. Dawtry, Westmin ster's Town Clerk, once explained to me, "The title of city in England is now simply an hon or bestowed by the sovereign, rather like a knighthood to an individual." In olden times only a community that boasted a cathedral could be called a city, and both the Square Mile and Westminster qualified in that respect. Both survived last year's shake-up of Lon don's municipal government, the result of an act of Parliament that reduced nearly 90 separate authorities to 34-the Greater Lon don Council, 32 borough councils, and the City. In writing innumerable compromises into the act, Parliament may have assured municipal solicitors a generation of employ ment sorting out overlapping responsibilities and functions between the GLC and the bor oughs. "I only hope our British genius for *See "The City-London's Storied Square Mile," by Allan C. Fisher, Jr., NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, June, 1961.