Try to imagine London without its wheeled icons: the red double-decker bus, the black taxi, and the Tube, which are the best of their kind in the world and a draw for visitors. In Covent Garden’s soaring cast-iron-and-glass 1871 flower-selling hall (Eliza Doolittle would have bought her flowers here), the vehicles’ development and evolution are traced with excellent technology (lots of ambient sounds and video displays, although some are getting grubby or outdated) and detail (there are even fake horse apples beneath the antique carriages). You can board a fleet of intact landmark vehicles, such as Number 23, a steam locomotive that powered the Underground in its most unpleasant days (“a form of mild torture,” wrote the Times then); also on display are plenty of the system’s famous Edwardian and Art Deco posters, many of which are art unto themselves. Designers will appreciate the background on Johnston, the distinctive typeface created in 1916 for the Underground by Frank Pick, which could now be considered London’s unofficial font. Along the way, you’ll learn a great deal about shifts in London life; you may even feel a twinge of embarrassment about the state of your own town’s public transportation. It’s a must for fans of London history and a good place to entertain children—but if you’re childless, you’ll need patience. The gift shop, which doesn’t require a ticket, is exemplary.
London Transport Museum
Covent Garden, WC2
Our Rating Hours Sat–Thurs 10am–6pm; Fri 11am–6pm; last admission 45 min. before closing Transportation Tube: Covent Garden Phone 020/7565-7299 Prices Admission £17.50 adults, £15 seniors and students, free for children 17 and under Web site London Transport Museum
MapCovent Garden, WC2 London
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.