This general street map of London shows the first phase of construction of the London Underground as it was nearing completion. The Metropolitan and the District line were rival companies, but they collaborated in the creation of an “inner circle” (known today as the Circle Line). This nearly complete circuit appears in blue on this map-- published one year before the final link in the circuit was complete. Smithfield, illustrated in the previous image, may be seen at center right, due north of Blackfriars Bridge. Here the Metropolitan line extension into the heart of the City, built in the mid-1860s, may be seen reaching toward its terminus near the Tower of London. The gap in the circle, between the Mansion House station and the Tower was filled in 1884. The map shows as well the street tramway lines (in yellow), built in the 1860s and 1870s, but which also did not reach into central London because of concerns about the additional congestion that they would add to the streets.
As the map shows, both the underground and mainline railways had been busy building branches that afforded access to London’s rapidly growing suburbs. Notable among these was an “outer circle,” which connected with a western extension of the District Line near Earl’s Court (in Kensington). The line then arched north of Regent’s Park and then south parallel to Kingsland Road to Broad Street Station, which was just off the Inner Circle near Finsbury Circus. The distinction between what would become known as the Underground lines and the connecting “overground” lines was not yet clear. The initial financial support for construction of the underground lines had come from the major intercity, or mainline, railroads. These railroads were still more concerned with gaining access to the center of the city than with the needs of local traffic in central London.
Barker, T. C. and Michael Robbins. A History of London Transport, 2 vols. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1963.
Leboff, David and Tim Demuth. No Need to Ask!: Early Maps of London’s Underground Railways. Harrow Weald: Capital Transport Publishing, 1999.
Barber, Peter. London: A History in Maps. London: The London Topographical Society in Association with The British Library, 2012.
The Guardian. 100 Years of the Underground. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/series/150-years-of-the-underground
Transport for London. “London Underground.” https://www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/culture-and-heritage/londons-transport-a-history/london-underground
Reynold’s New Map of London and Its Suburbs (London: James Reynold’s & Sons, 1883). The Newberry Library, G10455.74