London Burns Mini-London to Commemorate Great Fire
394-foot model was torched in the Thames
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 5, 2016 4:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – In a quintessentially British celebration, London commemorated the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London by burning the whole city down all over again—this time in miniature. Spectators packed the banks of the River Thames to watch as a 394-foot wooden replica of 17th-century London was set alight on a barge Sunday night, the CBC reports. The 1666 blaze, which started in a baker's shop, destroyed the homes of 70,000 of the city's population of 80,000 as it burned out of control for four days. The burning of the model, designed by US artist David Best, was the climax of the city's "London's Burning" festival.

"I've seen a shed blown up in the name of art, I've seen fireworks, I've seen artists bury themselves, I've seen the trace of an artist shooting himself in the hand or nailing himself to a car, but actually I've never seen anyone collaborate with so many people in such an extraordinary and exciting way, to make a commemorative replica of a skyline 350 years ago and then set fire to it," Royal Academy of Arts artistic director Tim Barlow tells the BBC. "I mean this is spectacle and then some." (In 2014, the British embassy in Washington, DC apologized for the way it commemorated the 200th anniversary of British troops burning the White House during the War of 1812.)
 

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