Town Planning

Town Planning

Register Office, Princes Street from ‘Scotia Depicta’, 1804 (NLS shelfmark: L.C. Fol.170)

A medieval city

Following the Union of the Crowns in 1603, and the Union of the Parliaments in 1707, the status of Edinburgh as a capital city was diminished. Initially, there was little impetus for improvement or investment. The city was still largely medieval in form, and not able to accommodate an expanding population.

A vision for the 'New Town'

However, from the middle of the 18th century, the future of Scotland's capital city became a topic for discussion and debate. Proposals were put forward for improving Edinburgh and creating a new district to the north.

The sources in this section highlight some of the political, social, and economic reasons behind this new drive for improvement and re-development.


  • Source 1

    A proposal for keeping the streets clean, 1734-5
  • Source 2

    Proposals for improving the city of Edinburgh, 1752
  • Source 3

    Proposals for improving the city of Edinburgh, 1752
  • Source 4

    James Craig’s design for the New Town, 1768
  • Source 5

    Map showing the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh, 1780
  • Source 6

    James Craig’s proposal for improving the eastern approach to the Old Town, 1786
  • Source 7

    Description of Edinburgh from the Statistical Account of Scotland, 1791-1799