It’s hard to imagine London without its wheeled icons: the red double-decker bus, the black taxi, and the Tube are the best of their kind in the world and a draw for visitors. In this soaring Victorian-era hall, which takes about 2 hours to tour, their development and evolution are traced with impeccable technology (lots of video screens and illuminated boards) and detail (there are even fake horse apples beneath the antique carriages). Besides landmark vehicles, such as Number 23, a steam locomotive that powered the Underground in its most unpleasant days, there’s also plenty of the system’s famous Edwardian and Art Deco posters, many of which are so stunning they’re art unto themselves—because of them, the gift shop, which doesn’t require a ticket, is worth attention. Designers will appreciate the background on Johnston, the distinctive and oft-imitated typeface created by Frank Pick in 1916 for the Underground that could now be considered London’s unofficial font. Along the way, you’ll learn a great deal about the shifts in London life, and you’ll likely feel a twinge of embarrassment about the state of your own town’s public transportation. Be warned that kids run wild here, so adults who come to learn history must learn patience first.
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 £17 adults, £14.50 seniors/students, free for kids under 17 Web site London Transport Museum