Although it was built on a much smaller scale than the Arc de Triomph in Paris, Marble Arch is a 19th-century triumphal arch faced with white Carrara marble. Today it is one of the iconic landmarks of London. It stands on a large traffic island at the junction of Bayswater Road, Edgware Road, Oxford Street, and Park Lane. Oxford Street is the Mecca for shoppers not only from the U.K. but also for tourist from all over the world. Consequently, standing at the western end of Oxford Street and close to the nearby Marble Arch underground station on the Central Line, it is seen by millions of people every year.
However its isolated and incongruous position was not the original intention. The structure was designed by John Nash in 1827 to be the state entrance to Buckingham Palace. Construction began in 1827 but was cut short in 1830, following the death of King George IV. In 1829, a bronze equestrian statue of George IV had been commissioned with the intention of placing it on top of the arch. Work restarted in 1832. As the rising costs were unacceptable to the new king, William IV, Nash’s planned attic stage, decorative friezes and the statue were omitted. The arch was completed in 1833.
Originally the arch stood as the ceremonial entrance near the well known balcony of the Palace. However, it had to be relocated due to the enlargement of the Palace. When the palace building work began in 1847, the arch was dismantled and rebuilt as a ceremonial entrance to the northeast corner of Hyde Park at Cumberland Gate. The reconstruction was completed in March 1851. Three small rooms inside the rebuilt arch were used as a police station from 1851 until about 1968. It firstly housed the royal constables of the Park and later the Metropolitan Police.
In the early 1960s the scheme to widen Park Lane forced a second relocation to its present site. The arch actually stands close to the former site of the Tyburn gallows, a place of public execution from 1388 until 1793.
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