In This Review

Waterloo Sunrise: London From the Sixties to Thatcher
Waterloo Sunrise: London From the Sixties to Thatcher
By John Davis
Princeton University Press, 2022, 600 pp

In this book, a leading urban historian argues that London pioneered the changes, good and bad, that have transformed all world cities over the past half century. In 1960, a fine restaurant shocked the city by admitting a single male diner without a tie. Just a few years later, multicolored male clothing, the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, and loose sexual mores made London “the most swinging city in the world”—a place seemingly without any remaining social rules. Classic urban problems followed. Smog and water pollution spread. Concrete highways, sterile housing blocks, and Brutalist office buildings sparked a preservationist reaction—but too late to save much more than Piccadilly Circus and Covent Garden. New immigrants and their British-born offspring vented frustration and anger at their exclusion and discrimination. Hordes of tourists, many of them young, flooded into town. The decline of traditional industry blighted neighborhoods and weakened the established strongholds of the Labour Party. Eventually, an alliance of conservative small-business owners and suburban homeowners began to vote for the Conservative Party, ushering in the era of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.