First laid out as a square in the 1670’s, Leicester Square is synonymous with London’s nightlife

Originally a fashionable residential area, by the mid 19th century it had started to become a commercial district.

The square enjoyed its most popular days between 1860 and 1914 when various theatres, including the Empire, attracted audiences from across London. These days, many of the theatres have been replaced with cinemas.

The Empire stands on the site of the old Empire theatre, which closed in 1927. Its final performance featured Fred Astaire.

The Odeon cinema is on the site of the Alhambra theatre, famous for a man named Mr Leotard who amazed audiences with his flying trapeze skills and gave his name to the costume. He was the original “Daring young man on the flying trapeze”.

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