From top: The Dame Street/College Green plaza; The Proposed Plan for Bedford Square, as shown on Roque’s Map of Dublin (1757)
Further to news of a new plaza at the at the College Green end of Dame Street, Dublin 2…
Sibling of Daedalus writes:
This is not the first time a large civic area has been planned for that locale. Back in the 18th century the Wide Streets Commissioners had plans for a similar development at the other end of Dame Street, just in front of the entrance to Dublin Castle.
The proposed square, to be known as Bedford Square, was to consist of a large plaza with a statue of George I in the centre.
The motivation behind the plan was not to provide public amenity to the citizens of Dublin but rather to provide an excuse to clear out the existing disreputable houses in the area, home of many of the city’s brothels as well as the Eagle Tavern, in-town meeting place for members of the Hellfire Club.
The scheme for the new square was abandoned after it was decided that this aim could be better achieved by replacing the proposed plaza with a stock exchange, now City Hall, which stands approximately where the square would have been.
Bedford Square stands with the Eccles Street Circus (abandoned after the decapacitation of Luke Gardiner at the Battle of New Ross in 1798) and the Kennedy Memorial Hall as one of Dublin’s proposed developments what never were.
If the choice had been made to go ahead with the idea of a large civic plaza, Dublin might have developed into a very different, more continental city, with citizens congregating in the open air rather than indoors in pubs. Or perhaps not…
Previously: Sibling of Daedalus on Broadsheet
Bedford Square map via archiseek