The Circus was created by John Nash as part of the future King George IV's plan to connect Carlton House - where the Prince Regent resided - with Regent´s park.
The creation of the Shaftesbury Avenue in 1885 turned the plaza into a busy traffic junction. This made Piccadilly Circus attractive for advertisers, who installed the first illuminated billboards in London in 1895. For some time the plaza was surrounded by billboards, creating London's version of Times Square, but
currently only one building still carries large (mostly electronic) displays.
At the center of the Circus stands the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain. It was built in 1893 to commemorate Lord Shaftesbury, a philanthropist known for his support of the poor.
The seminude statue on top of the fountain depicts the Angel of Christian Charity but was later renamed Eros after the Greek god of love and beauty. The fountain was made in bronze, but the statue is made of aluminum, at the time a novel and rare material.
The name 'Piccadilly' originates from a 17th century frilled collar named piccadil. Roger Baker, a tailor who became rich making piccadils lived in the area. The word 'Circus' refers to the roundabout around which the traffic circulated.