Had TfL existed in his time, the great Samuel Johnson may well have amended his famous aphorism to read "a man who is bored of London needs to hop on the number 19 bus". In its perambulation from Battersea to Finsbury Park, the 19 cuts a swath across the capital's economic and cultural barriers, revealing the world within one city that modern London manifests.
Vogue has certainly been impressed by the number 19. The style magazine has described it as one of Britain's most glamorous locations, dubbing it "the shuttle service for 'nice' girls as they hop between jobs in West End art galleries and their Chelsea apartments". Despite the conversion from Routemaster to generic double-decker two years ago, it's tempting to agree. Friend to London's rich and idle wealthy, the route passes some of the city's best-known streets and des-res postcodes. It trundles along the full length of the King's Road and past the bijou hideouts of Sloane Square, depositing pecunious passengers squarely at the doors of Knightsbridge boutiques before disappearing toward Piccadilly and the West End.
Vogue's ringing endorsement suggests that they didn't ride the bus all the way northwards. Once past the uber-gentrification of Upper Street, things turn grim. Schoolkids with their hyperactive chatter and ringtone face-offs are a far cry from the pleasant Chelsea girls. And if Arsenal are playing, the traffic snarls up along Blackstock Road for miles, Still, amidst the chicken shops and screw-faced youths of the final destination, Finsbury Park, lies one of London's secret fashion meccas - the wholesale clothing outlets of Fonthill Road, where on a Saturday those self-same Fulham fashionistas can be found rummaging. Truly, the number 19 is a marvel of modern London, and Mr. Johnson would undoubtedly have agreed.
Image courtesy of Nicobobinus' Flickrstream