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London 2051: How Should We Celebrate The City's 2000th Anniversary?

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By M@
London 2051: How Should We Celebrate The City's 2000th Anniversary?

It's a long way off, but keep the summer of 2051 free. London will see its biggest party since the Olympics as three huge anniversaries converge.

1851 was the year of the Great Exhibition, which gave us the Crystal Palace, Royal Albert Hall, Imperial College and the museums of South Kensington.

1951 was the year of the Festival of Britain, which gave us the Southbank Centre and everything that grew up alongside it.

2051 almost has to be another big party year for London, given the success of its two forerunners.

But there's something even bigger to be celebrated around the same time: 2,000 years of London.

As most people know, London was founded by the Romans, who invaded Britain in 43 AD. But London (or Londinium) was not built in a day. Various sources, including the City of London Corporation, reckon that the city was founded about seven years after the initial invasion — around 50-51 AD.

For three reasons, then, 2051 is the perfect year to put on a huge celebration of our city's past, present and future. In an early bid to make Londonist the official media partner for what we're calling 'LDN2000', here are a few ways we might mark the triple anniversary.

Recreate lost London with holography

By 2051, 3-D visualisation technology should be good enough to conjure up whole buildings from light. The LDN2000 festival could recreate notable building's from the city's past, such as Old St Paul's, the Euston Arch and the Roman walls. Another display could holographically create unbuilt structures, such as the stillborn Pinnacle skyscraper, the 1950s proposed Thames airport and (dare we say it?) the Garden Bridge.

A massive triumphal brick arch

London already has its triumphal arches — Marble, Wellington, Admiralty — but they're all a bit old and, well, establishment. What we need is something fresh, yet imbued with the history and spirit of London. What could fit the bill better than a structure built from the humble London stock brick? A competition could be held to design the most impressive arch possible, made entirely from bricks and mortar. Every brick in the structure should be reclaimed from one of the many brick buildings likely to be knocked down between now and 2051.

Rename the city

London has enjoyed many previous names: Londinium, Lundenwic, Lundenburh... even Augusta. We're long overdue another name change, so how about using the big anniversary to try something fresh? Thamesville. Whittington. Magnate City. Or perhaps we should formalise the shortened name of LDN. Alternatively, we could use the opportunity to build up cash reserves by putting the city up for sponsorship. Virgin London. LondoNike, Barclay's Big Smoke. UberLondon. London, brought to you by Londonist.

Turn the O2 into the world's biggest birthday cake

2,000 giant candles might be a bit much, but we'd love to see the yellow support towers of the O2 dome converted into flaming candles. Pity the dignitary who has to blow them out, though.  

Fire the guns of HMS Belfast at Scratchwood

As any pub quizzer will know, the guns of HMS Belfast are set at the precise angle and elevation to hit Scratchwood Services (now known as London Gateway Services) on the M1. It's true — we asked the museum ship's Chief Yeoman. By 2051, road travel will be largely a thing of the past, meaning that service stations can now be dismantled... or destroyed. Using HMS Belfast to blow up Scratchwood would be a memorable way to usher in the city's third millennium.

Add five new boroughs

London has a long history of encroachment into the home counties. As part of the LDN2000 celebrations, the metropolis should subsume five additional regions: Elstree & Borehamwood; Epsom and Etwell; Watford; Brighton; and Edinburgh, just because we like it.

Recreate the battle between Boudica and the Romans using fusion-powered androids in hover-drone chariots

The original Londinium did not last very long. About a decade after the city was founded, it was razed to the ground by Boudica, queen of the Iceni tribe. The enraged Romans soon caught up with the warrior queen, and defeated her army in a great battle. No one knows where the confrontation took place, though popular myth would have it at King's Cross (formerly known as Battle Bridge). By 2051, the railways will have closed in favour of hyperloops and heliboards, so the battle could be restaged across the former rail lands of King's Cross using the latest in hover-drone technology.

Convert the bed of the Thames into luxury flats

Because every other square inch has already gone to the rich.

Found a New London on Mars

In 2051, there should be a sizeable human presence on Mars, at least if Elon Musk gets his way. London should be backing the initiative for four reasons:

  1. Musk's space ship is a rip-off of London's Gherkin.
  2. Londoner HG Wells depicted a Martian attack on London as far back as 1897, in his novel War of the Worlds.
  3. London almost founded its own 'Martian colony' in the 1980s.
  4. One Londoner was talking to the Martians in 1918.

Hell, we Londoners practically invented Mars. So let's build a New London on the surface of the Red Planet to mark our city's 2000th year. And let's do it in Hooke Crater, named after Robert Hooke, the scientist-architect who worked with Wren on the rebuilding of the city following the Great Fire.

Scratch 'London Woz Ere' on the charred Portland Stone that once formed the base of St Paul's Cathedral

Gustave Doré's The New Zealander (1872) shows London in ruins.

Of course, there's no guarantee that London will still be here in 2051. Many have foreseen the fall of London, from Mary Shelley to Danny Boyle. Nuclear war, rising sea levels, asteroid impact, severe pandemic or alien invasion could all see the capital crumble. If anyone's around to remember the 2000th anniversary of this steaming pile of stone and wire, they'll no doubt be drawn to the ruin of St Paul's Cathedral to leave a RIP note to the city. Resurgam.

Last Updated 12 October 2016

Aidan Stevens

London will be underwater by 2051 due to climate change.