George Street was to be
the grandest and widest street in the New Town, 115 ft broad, linking two
new squares, St Andrew Square and St George Square. It was subsequently
decided that St George Square should be named
Charlotte Square after Queen Charlotte, wife of George III.
The other main streets
in Craig’s Plan were Queen Street and Princes Street flanking George
Street on the north and south, and Castle Street, Frederick Street and
Hanover Street forming a grid.
To encourage Old Town
residents to move to the New Town, a £20 prize was offered to the first
person to build their home in the New Town. This was won by George Young
who laid his foundation stone in George Street in 1867. His house can now
be seen in Thistle Court, to the north of George Street.
In the late-1860s, as the building work
began, George Street would have resembled a straight country road with
fences on either site. It was to be another two or three decades
before all the houses in George Street were built.
Statues, including one to George IV who
visited Edinburgh in 1822 were later added to the George Street junctions
with Castle Street, Frederick Street and Hanover Street.
The street layout
around George Street today is still the same as appeared in Craig's plan
drawn up in the 1760s. More streets have
been built following further plans, created between 1802 and 1822, to
extend the New Town further to the west, north and east.
Street was mainly residential. During the 19th and 20th
centuries, several banks and insurance companies created new offices in
the street, but in recent years most of these have found new use as bars
and night clubs, and a number of new up-market shops have moved into the
buildings built in George Street included The George Hotel, The Royal
Society of Edinburgh, St Andrew’s & St George’s Church, The Assembly Rooms
and The Freemasons’ Hall.