Near Big Ben


There are certain iconic sights that are symbols of specific locales, the type of sights used by filmmakers to identify a location to movie or television viewers.

Think the Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Empire State Building or Times Square in New York, the Washington Monument or Lincoln Memorial or U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C.

For London it’s the tower of Big Ben, the subject of my photo of the week.

I’ve spent a lot of time in London on business through the years and grabbed this shot while walking east on Great George Street through Parliament Square on my way to lunch during a 2010 visit.

People typically use “Big Ben” to refer to the tower and/or the clock itself, but it’s actually the nickname for the Great Bell that chimes every quarter hour. The tower was officially called the Clock Tower until it was renamed Elizabeth Tower in 2012 to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. The tower was completed in 1858, which makes it a somewhat recent addition to London when compared to other structures in the city.

But in recent years, tourists hoping to get a nice selfie with the Elizabeth Tower (Big Ben) in the background have been disappointed. Since 2017, the tower has been wrapped in scaffolding while a £61 million (approximately $78 million) restoration project is completed. Some of the scaffolding is scheduled to be removed in 2020, but the project won’t be completed and all scaffolding removed until 2021.

We were in London in 2018 with a group of people, many of whom expected to get photos of themselves with the tower in the background and were disappointed. It’s a shot that should say “I was in London!." Instead, it said “I was in London during Big Ben’s restoration!” They settled for photos posing with the red London phone booths or with the red double-decker buses passing in the background.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.


Date/time: March 15, 2010, 11:42 a.m.  
Location: 51°30'3.539" N 0°7'31.819" W (Show in Google Maps)  
Camera: Canon EOS 7D  
Lens: Canon EF 24-70 2.8L (46mm) 
Aperture: f/8  
Shutter: 1/400th second  
ISO: 400