The London Underground is iconic, ubiquitous, convenient ... and something of a lie. While it's true that this famous rapid-transit system spends some of its daily travels below ground, for the majority of its track length, it cruises along above the surface. For the same reason, even the system's popular nickname, "The Tube," doesn't quite work, either, although that nickname does a good job describing the deep, circular tunnels found along some parts of the system. At any rate, the terms "Tube" and "Underground" didn't surface until after the turn of the 20th century, or roughly 40 years after the railway system began operating. Today, 55 percent of the Underground's tracks are aboveground, mostly serving areas outside of the city center. Another surprising fact about the Underground network is that less than 10% of the 270 stations are located south of the River Thames.
A look inside London:
- Everyone has heard of Big Ben, but that name actually only refers to the largest bell in the clock at the Palace of Westminster. The clock tower itself is officially known as Elizabeth Tower.
- Despite the widespread destruction caused by the Great Fire of London in 1666, there were only six verified fatalities.
- The only person allowed to drink alcohol in the House of Commons is the Chancellor of the Exchequer, and only when delivering the annual Budget Speech.