The Burlington Arcade is a covered shopping arcade in London that runs behind Bond Street from Piccadilly through to Burlington Gardens. It is one of the precursors of the mid 19th century European shopping gallery and the modern shopping centre. The Burlington Arcade was built for the sale of jewellery and fancy articles of fashionable demand.
Lord George Cavendish, who lived in Burlington House (now the Royal Academy) commissioned his architect, Samuel Ware, to design a covered promenade of shops - unofficially to stop ruffians throwing quantities of rubbish, in particular oyster shells, onto his property and officially "for the gratification of the public and to give employment to industrious females". The Burlington Arcade consisted of a single straight top-lit walkway lined with seventy-two small two storey units.
Originally there were 47 leaseholders, six of whom were 'industrious females' but, in accordance with the rules of the day, even the male milliners and corsetieres, were addressed as 'Madame'. Many of the tenants lived under very cramped conditions above and below their shops, sharing the space with their stock.
March 1936 saw chaos in the Arcade when a fire broke out and both tenants and visitors caused havoc by panicking and looting occurred. More seriously there was considerable architectural damage to the Piccadilly end during the war when the Arcade was struck by bombs: restoration work was required and completed in the 1950's.
During the last decade, the Arcade has provided the location for major films such as "Patriot Games", "101 Dalmatians" and "Scandal".