Each day, we receive a steaming heap of press releases about events happening in landmark buildings. Almost every one of them declares the chosen venue to be "one of the most iconic buildings in London". It's a trite phrase. Who ranks buildings for icon status? Some places go one step further, declaring themselves to be the most iconic. We thought we'd do a little playing around on Google (surely the most iconic search engine) to see if we can find some consensus.
What's the top search result?
The Tower of London. The very first hit in Google leads us to the Tower; not to the official site, but to the Historic Landmarks guide, which has clearly pumped a lot of effort into search-engine optimisation (and we've just helped by linking it up). The Tower's claims to being London's most iconic building are strong. Its fame has lasted almost 1,000 years. Few things shout ENGLAND more loudly than its uniformed guards and castellated walls.
Which other buildings are the most iconic?
The Gherkin wins. A Google search for "London's most iconic building" brings up 61 exact matches. Of these, 26 declare the Gherkin as the pinnacle of icons, beating St Paul's (with a flimsy 10 results) into second place. Other contenders for the dubious title are the Shard, Big Ben and St Pancras Hotel.
St Pancras Hotel?
Yes. George Gilbert Scott's stunning Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras (now the Renaissance) is surely up there with the most beautiful buildings in London, perhaps the world. We love it to bits. But does it have any real claim to be the capital's most iconic? If you did a worldwide version of Family Fortunes, asking a survey of 7 billion to name an iconic building in London, we suspect the Euston Road landmark would be nowhere near the top. Wishful thinking on behalf of the hotel's bar, we reckon.
What else is described as 'one of London's most iconic buildings'?
Pretty much everything. Centre Point, City Hall, Camden Market, Cutty Sark...and that's just taking buildings and attractions beginning with C. Even Blackfriars rail bridge is reckoned among London's most iconic structures. Have a play with the search engine and see what unlikely icons you can find.
So what is the most iconic building in London?
Until someone carries out the world survey mentioned above, we can only speculate. A 2009 study, looking at the most-photographed places on Flickr, perhaps comes closest. It put (the tower commonly known as) Big Ben and Tate Modern as London's top buildings, with the London Eye and Trafalgar Square also popular. Similarly out of date, in 2006 we did a survey to find which buildings appear most frequently in the logos of London websites. Answer: Big Ben.
We declare Londonist Towers as the most iconic building in London, just because it's the only pile of bricks in the city that haven't yet attracted the epithet.
What's the most ludicrous example you can find?