George Square, Edinburgh

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Gardens in George Square, with the university library in the background

George Square is a city square in Edinburgh, Scotland. It is in the south of the city centre, adjacent to the Meadows. It was laid out in 1766 outside the overcrowded Old Town, and was a popular residential area for Edinburgh's better-off citizens. In the 1960s much of the square was redeveloped by the University of Edinburgh, despite the protests of the Cockburn Association and the Georgian Group of Edinburgh. All the buildings on the square now belong to the university. Principal buildings include the Main Library, David Hume Tower and Appleton Tower.

Georgian square[edit]

A Georgian house at the north-east corner of the square

The square was laid out by the builder James Brown, and comprised modest, typically Georgian, terraced houses. Away from the overcrowded Old Town, George Square became popular with lawyers and nobles. Well-known residents included Sir Walter Scott, the judge Lord Braxfield, and the politician Henry Dundas, 1st Viscount Melville. The square was named after James Brown's elder brother, George Brown.


The University of Edinburgh began drawing up plans to redevelop the square in the 1950s. Architects Basil Spence, Robert Matthew were closely involved in the plans. Opposition to demolition of the Georgian Square was led by the Cockburn Association, and the Georgian Group of Edinburgh which was established by Colin McWilliam and others to resist the proposals. In the end, the western side of the square was retained. On the northern side, the 19th century George Watson's Ladies College was retained alongside the modern Hugh Robson Building. Georgian terraces were retained along half of the east side, while the southern side was entirely redeveloped. The David Hume Tower stands at the south-east corner, adjacent to the main lecture theatre and the business school. The Main Library occupies most of the southern side of the square.


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Coordinates: 55°56′37″N 3°11′20″W / 55.9437°N 3.189°W / 55.9437; -3.189