I like reading old city/travel guides, guides that tell you about streets and places that may no longer exist, guides that invite you to wander along trying to find remnants of what used to be or the new building or street name in its place. What did people 10, 20, 30 or more years deem important enough to mention?

For example, this Leipzig Guide from 1987, in its history chapter, highlights the fact that the Soviet Union took part in the ‘Leipziger Messe‘ for the first time in 1922. They state as fact that the ‘Messe’ exists at all is only down to ‘early capitalism’. Also noteworthy to the authors was the then quite new ‘Hotel Merkur’.

The Karl-Marx-Platz mentioned on the cover had originally been the Augustus Platz  (until 1945, and was renamed back to its original name in 1990) –  times do change.

And that’s ok and mostly good. Last week I promised to post on a ‘Guide to the City’s pleasures’ and yes, most chapters are wittily written and contain useful information, and I get my nostalgia kick easily enough: ‘discotheques’ (does anyone use that word anymore – is it time for a revival?) but, and it is a big one, the chapters on ‘pulling’ or ‘paying’ are a sad reflection on the sexism (there, I’ve said it) of the times. The writers may have thought they were cool but… just one example: “ Anyway, Foreign birds. Let’s break them down into the visiting variety and the quasi-permanent sort. And here’s how to go about getting hold of both..”

I will leave you with the cover and content page. If you are interested you can still get second-hand copies at low prices. And if you’re interested in really good guides (visually and in terms of content) to the ‘unusual’ then I recommend (I’m not being paid for this) Herb Lester Associates

Content - The London Spy - A Discreet Guide to the City's Pleasures

Content page

Cover The London Spy - A discreet Guide to the City's Pleasures

cover of The London Spy