Two early views of Princes Street in the second decade of the nineteenth century by John Heaviside Clark offer an excellent visual insight into the life of Georgian Edinburgh. Both views represent divergent prospects from the same spot, at the junction with South St Andrews Street. These works are aquatints, a sophisticated type of print that results from a process using acid-resistant rosin to produce distinctive tonal effects. They were first published in 1814 by printseller Daniel McIntosh, whose premises were located at 16 St Andrews Street. In 1817 McIntosh described his business on his trade card as 'D. McIntosh. English and Foreign Printseller, Carver and Gilder, Ladies fancy Works, Stationery, Water Colours & all Requisites for Drawing'.
The second aquatint looks south-westward towards Edinburgh Castle. Those who are familiar with this view today will note the absence of the Scott Memorial and National Galleries at the foot of the Mound. Whilst the New Town was being built in the late eighteenth century (see blog post of 12 December 2011, below) the 'Earthen Mound' was created by dumping about 1.5 million cartloads of earth excavated from the foundations of the new buildings in order to create an artificial ramp connecting the Old and New Towns. In the foreground the fashions of the day are shown, and it can be seen from these prints that pantaloons (trousers) are becoming popular with the gentlemen, though some are persisting with breeches and half-boots. A female carrying baskets is probably a street vendor. On Princes Street itself oil lamps can be seen, and fine quality pavement; the stone for this was mined in Caithness in the far north of mainland Scotland. Originally all buildings in Princes Street had the same format: set back from the street with stairs down to a basement and stairs up to the ground floor. Heights were generally three storeys plus an attic. Of this original format only one such property remains in its original form. Through the 19th century most buildings were redeveloped at a larger scale and the street evolved from residential to mainly retail uses.