An American in London
Tens of thousands of Americans live in London today. They follow in the footsteps of many US citizens who, over the past 250 years, have lived or stayed in London. Some Americans have gained a more permanent place in the city. This first part of ‘An American in London’ visits seven US Presidents who, in one way or another, have remained in London for rather a long time.
A life sized statue of the USA’s first President stands outside the National Gallery, on the north side of Trafalgar Square. Presented to London in 1921 by the State of Virginia, twenty replicas are spread around the globe.
Grosvenor Square, where the US Embassy now stands, was once called ‘little America’ and John Adams may well have been the originator of the US link with this corner of Mayfair. He has a blue plaque outside No9, where he lived in the late 1780’s whilst Minister to England.
Martin Van Buren
Van Buren lived in Stratford Place, also whilst US Ambassador to Britain. A blue plaque marks his residence at No7, and that he later became 8th US President.
This statue of Lincoln in studious pose stands on the west side of Parliament Square. It’s a copy of Saint-Goudens Chicago original and was erected in 1920.
Franklin D Roosevelt
Unveiled in 1948 by his wife and paid for by private British subscriptions only, this slightly regal statue of Roosevelt stands in Grosvenor Square, slightly to the east of the US Embassy. Charming and very accessible, Roosevelt and Churchill also share a life sized statue called ‘The Allies’, unveiled in 1995. You can sit between them on a park bench, where New Bond Street and Old Bond Street meet.
Dwight D Eisenhower
The second statue of an American President in Grosvenor Square, in this sculpture of 1989 Eisenhower stands beside the US Embassy and near to No20, his wartime HQ.
John F Kennedy
Robert and Edward Kennedy unveiled this memorial bust of their brother in 1965, outside the International Students’ Hostel, on the corner of Marylebone Road and Park Crescent. JFK also has a blue plaque at 14 Prince’s Gate SW7, commemorating his stay whilst his father Joseph was US Ambassador from 1937-40.
A ten foot bronze statue of Reagan was unveiled in Grosvenor Square in July 2011. Paid for by the Reagan Memorial Trust Fund at a reputed cost of $1m, the statue commemorated both 100 years since his birth and contribution to ending the Cold War.