London is not a civilized nor a graceful city, despite the testimony of the maps. It is tortuous, inexact and oppressive. It could never be laid out again with mathematic precision, in any case, because the long history of streets and estates meant that there was a bewildering network of owners and landlords with their own especial claims or privileges. This is a social and topological fact, but it in turn suggests a no less tangible aspect of London. It is a city built upon profit and speculation, not upon need, and no mayor or sovereign could withstand its essential organic will.
Just read it.
London - Peter Ackroyd