The Millennium Dome, with the Canary Wharf complex in the background, seen from the River Thames
Aerial view of the Millennium Dome
The Millennium Dome, seen from the Isle of Dogs. The Millennium Dome is a large dome on the Greenwich peninsula in the Docklands area in Eastern London, the United Kingdom, at grid reference TQ391801. In May 2005, it was announced a sponsorship deal involving O2 would see it being renamed to The O2. It is served by the North Greenwich tube station on the Jubilee line, which was opened just before the Dome.
The Dome is the largest single roofed structure in the world. Externally it appears as a large, brilliant white marquee with twelve 95m-high yellow-painted support towers. In plan view it is circular, 365m in diameter, with scalloped edges. It has become one of the United Kingdom's most easily recognised, if not best loved, landmarks. It can easily be seen on aerial photographs of London, including the title sequence of the popular soap-opera EastEnders. Its exterior is reminiscent of the dome built for the Festival of Britain in 1951. The architect was Richard Rogers.
During the whole of 2000 the Dome was open to the public, and contained a large number of attractions and exhibits. The project was financed by the UK government to celebrate the arrival of the 3rd millennium.
A major problem was that, having inherited a grandiose project for a Festival of Britain or World's Fair-type showcase from the previous Conservative government, the organisers of the project did not in fact have much of an idea of what to place in it for the public to see. Some saw the result as a disjointed assemblage of thinly-veiled corporate-sponsored promotions, burger stalls, and lacklustre museum-style exhibits that were so weak as to appear almost as parodies.
The project was largely reported by the press to have been a flop: badly thought-out, badly executed, and leaving the government with the embarrassing question of what to do with it afterwards. During 2000 the organisers repeatedly asked for, and received, more cash from the government. Part of the perceived problem was that the financial predictions were based on an unrealistically high forecast of visitor numbers at 12 million. During the twelve months it was open there were approximately 6.5 million visitors — slightly more than they 6 million that attended the Festival of Britain, but that only ran from May to September.
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