George Square sits at the very heart of the city. It is the main civic square in Glasgow and the centre of the city. The Merchant City lies to its south and east. Strathclyde University can be found to the northeast, and the main grid layout of the shopping districts and the city centre is to the north and west.
The square is bounded to the east by the City Chambers, to the north by Queen Street Station and to the South and West by ornate office buildings of various ages.
The original city centre was to the east of George Square at Glasgow Cross, where High Street, Gallowgate, Trongate and the Saltmarket meet.
In the late 18th Century the Tobacco Lords and other rich Glasgwegians started to build their urban villas and mansion houses to the west of the city centre. These were just dotted around and didn’t follow any plan.
However, this was the age of the Scottish Enlightenment, and a haphazard city centre didn’t fit with the new rational, scientific, thinking of the time, so a new plan for the city centre was brought forward. In the 1780s and 1790s, there was an extensive city centre urban development scheme that saw the creation of the square and the orderly gridiron pattern of the streets, that is still in use today, was laid out.
George Square started life as a muddy hole and was gradually developed into gardens for the Georgian townhouses and hotels that surrounded it. By the mid--1870s, it had become an established public space and the de facto centre of the city.
Statues and Monuments
George Square was named after King George III and was initially supposed to feature a statue of him, but worries over the recent loss of the American War of Independence and George’s state of mental health meant that it was never commissioned.
Today George Square is home to eleven of Glasgow’s public statues. In the centre, sitting high on a Doric column is the statue of Sir Walter Scott. It was erected just five years after his death and is notable for being the first memorial dedicated to the great writer.
In the western end of the square is a very rare equestrian statue of Queen Victoria. It was built to commemorate her visit in 1849. It has been described as a statue of a spirited young empress on her equally spirited mount.
Other statues dotted around the square include statues of: James Watt, whose modifications to the steam engine drove the Industrial Revolution; Sir Robert Peel, who created the first modern urban police force; Robert Burns, the famous Scottish poet and Sir William Gladstone, the British Prime Minister who was responsible for substantial changes to the justice system and civil service.
Just outside the City Chambers is the only 20th Century addition to the square - The Cenotaph. It was erected in the early 1920s to commemorate the men of Glasgow who lost their lives in the First World War.
The City Chambers stands proudly on the eastern edge of the square. It is an incredibly ornate Beaux-Arts style building which is the headquarters of Glasgow City Council.
On the western edge of the square are the Bank of Scotland building and Merchants House.
The Bank of Scotland building has its main entrance on St Vincent Street and is instantly recognisable for its Atlantes sculptures which hold up the crest of the bank. Today, it houses offices and a restaurant and bar.
Merchants House was built in 1870 and is home to The Merchants House of Glasgow - a major charitable institution whose membership is drawn from the business men and women of Glasgow.
In the south-western corner of the square stands the General Post Office building. It was, until 1995, the city’s central post office which handled 20,000 customers and 1.5 million items of mail each week. After the post office moved out, the building was converted to offices with some residences at the top.
24 hour access.
The closest subway is Buchanan Street, which is just around the corner and Queen Street Station is right on the square itself. From Central Station, it's just a 10-minute walk up the hill.
There are lots of bus services that stop on or near the square including 6, 6A, 18, 41, 100, 240, 255, 263, 267, 338, 359 and it's a stop for the Glasgow City Tour bus. It is also a short walk down the hill on North Hanover Street from Buchanan Street Bus Station.