In Search of John Snow’s Well
Anyone who is familiar with GIS knows the story of John Snow (photo at right), the original "father of GIS." So when I had the chance to come to London, I eagerly anticipated when I would have some free time to go in search of the infamous locale of where Snow determined the source of the cholera outbreak of 1854: the Broad Street (now Broadwick Street) water well pump. Sort of like "Mecca for GIS" geeks. Snow determined the source of the outbreak with a map of the addresses of those who had succumbed to the disease. Snow reasoned (source: Wikipedia)
On proceeding to the spot, I found that nearly all the deaths had taken place within a short distance of the [Broad Street] pump. There were only ten deaths in houses situated decidedly nearer to another street-pump. In five of these cases the families of the deceased persons informed me that they always sent to the pump in Broad Street, as they preferred the water to that of the pumps which were nearer ... With regard to the deaths occurring in the locality belonging to the pump, there were 61 instances in which I was informed that the deceased persons used to drink the pump water from Broad Street, either constantly or occasionally...The result of the inquiry, then, is, that there has been no particular outbreak or prevalence of cholera in this part of London except among the persons who were in the habit of drinking the water of the above-mentioned pump well.
So, as I said, I was pretty excited to pursue this little quest. The vicinity of the well is pretty easy to find and not far from major tourist areas like Carnaby Street. When rounding the corner of Wardour and Broadwick I could tell I was in the right neighborhood. And then I got distracted. At that intersection was a building in which I could plainly see the logo for Autodesk (see photo at left; click to enlarge). You've got to be kidding, I thought. This was not a coincidence. One of the largest mapping companies in the world and they are on the same street as Snow's well?
So, I proceeded up the sidewalk snapping photos when in the distance I saw John Snow's tavern. Now, when I looked up Snow in Wikipedia, I saw the map he had drawn and then I really only focused on the photo of the well. I didn't pay much attention to the fact that there was a tavern in the background named "John Snow." I made a bee line toward the tavern ... wait, it's not what you are thinking, yet ... and started searching for the well itself. It was not to be found. I did however take a photo of the front of the tavern including the Coco Chanel logo fixture of the lampposts (see the "selfie" below), thinking at the time that the gold logo was just a memorial to the well which no longer existed. So, I was a little disappointed not to see the real well. Then, I went inside for a pint and eased my disappointment.
Naturally, when I got back to my hotel, I went to the Wikipedia page and was able to discern that I truly missed the actual location of the well which was closer to the Autodesk building. I looked at several angles of photos up and down the street zeroing in on photos that surely would have included the well. None was to be seen. It is possible that the well was hidden by construction along the street at the time (see more photos below).
Perhaps a Londoner could help me out. Does the well exist anymore?
Of course, there is only one solution. I'll have to go back and continue my search for John Snow's well.