The Landlord’s Game, as it was originally called, was designed in 1903 by anti-monopolist Elizabeth Magie Phillips. It was one of the first board games to use what game designers call a ‘continuous path’, in that there’s no defined start and end point as well as the concept of players ‘owning’ spaces on a board where other players landing on that space pay a forfeit. One interesting aside about the development of Monopoly was the story of Charles Darrow. Read on to find out more about this controversial character…
Darrow was a heater salesman from Germantown, Pennsylvania who lost his job when the Great Depression hit in 1929. He took odd jobs where he could but when he saw friends and neighbours playing a property trading game, he decided to publish his own. There were similar variants of the game being played in the Midwest and on the East coast but the final version sold to Parker Brothers came from Darrow who secured a patent in 1935 which included almost all the recognisable graphics we know today.
A year on, the company was selling 20,000 copies of Monopoly a week and it made Charles Darrow the first millionaire board game designer. By the 1970s, the notion that Darrow was the game’s only designer was folklore (it was even printed in the instructions) but since new evidence of Monopoly’s early history came to light in the 1980s, it has – finally – been acknowledged by the parent company (Hasbro, at the time of writing) that Darrow was only one of the games’ many developers and NOT it’s inventor!
Here’s the story of ‘the blues’…
The Angel Islington (£100); Rent: £6; 1 House: £30; 2 Houses: £90; 3 Houses: £270; 4 Houses: £400; Hotel £550
Where the rest of the properties are roads, the Angel is a building that sits on the corner of Islington High Street and Pentonville Road. It was the site of a famous inn (known as the Sheepcote) that dates back to the late 1500s. It has been known as the Angel since 1614 and gave its name to the tube station that opened in 1901 as well as the surrounding area.
It was rebuilt in 1638 by William Riplingham who was fined for constructing ‘a new building in the Angel’s Inn in Islington’ and it’s fame was such that it was depicted in William Hogarth’s ‘Stage Coach’ as well as getting a mention in Dickens’ Oliver Twist‘…the coach rattled away and, turning when it reached the Angel at Islington, stopped at length before a neat house in Pentonville.’
It was a major inn and post-house (a place accommodating travellers with horses) with 23 hearths and offered overnight lodgings for traders coming to London. In 1903 is was rebuilt as The Angel Hotel in a Baroque style with its defining dome and in 1921was bought by J. Lyons & Co and operated as one of their famous tea shops. The story goes that in 1935 while taking tea there, an employee of John Waddington Ltd decided to include The Angel Islington as one of the Monopoly locations.
Today, the grade II listed building is a bank and if you look closely, there’s a plaque that states it’s ‘the only site on the board named after a building’
Euston Road (£100); Rent: £6; 1 House: £30; 2 Houses: £90; 3 Houses: £270; 4 Houses: £400; Hotel £550
Originally the middle section of the New Road (a turnpike built via an act of Parliament in 1756 across the fields of the City’s northernmost boundaries), Euston Road is designated the A501 and runs west to east, from Marylebone Road to Pentonville Road.
The original purpose of the road was to get sheep and cattle to the live auctions at Smithfield Market by bypassing the increasing east-west congestion around Holborn and Oxford Street. The construction was vehemently opposed by one of the city’s major landowners, the Duke of Bedford as it literally cut off his estate (now known as Bloomsbury) from the countryside.
Another reason for the construction of the Euston Road was that it offered a much faster route for army units to get to the east coast under threat of invasion so they didn’t have to pass through the busy City of London.
A walk down the road, especially on the north side from Great Portland Street down to Euston Station (opened in 1837) and you’ll notice that many of the properties that were once houses lay behind very long gardens. This is because a clause in the 1756 act stipulated that one couldn’t construct buildings within 50 feet of the road, a clause that was increasingly ignored!
Today, the Euston Road houses the world-class UCH teaching hospital, the British Library, the George Bernard Shaw-inspired Shaw Theatre and the headquarters of the Wellcome Trust.
Pentonville Road (£120); Rent: £8; 1 House: £40; 2 Houses: £100; 3 Houses: £300; 4 Houses: £450; Hotel £600
Also designated the A501, Pentonville Road was originally constructed as the eastern third of the New Road. The area known as Pentonville named for landowner Henry Penton in 1857 was a new suburb (often regarded as London’s first ‘planned’ suburb) north of the City and became a manufacturing hub for local businesses which included musical instruments, furniture, jewellery and oddly, artificial flowers. There was also a proliferation of coffee houses and dining rooms to cater for the factory and other workers in the area.
Today, Pentonville Road is a relatively nondescript street full of shops, fast-food joints and blocks of 1950s-era flats but one of the defining buildings of the area, not technically on Pentonville Road, is HMP Prison Pentonville.
Known informally as ‘the Ville’, Pentonville nick was designed by Sir Joshua Jebb, a Royal Engineer and impressively-titled British Surveyor-General of Convict Prisons who also designed Broadmoor Hospital. It was intended for the detention of sentenced convicts and those awaiting deportation. It was completed in 1842 at a cost of £84,186 12s 2d.
The list of alumni makes for impressive reading and could well be construed as a chronology of 19th and 20th century life in London –