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Playfair Steps


(Mound Steps, John Knox Way)

A flight of steps which descend from the top of Market Street in the centre of Edinburgh to the National Gallery of Scotland and Princes Street Gardens, the Playfair Steps are named in honour of the architect William Henry Playfair (1789 - 1857), who designed them. Playfair not only designed the National Gallery, but also New College opposite the top of the steps. The steps were constructed around the same time as the Gallery, and soon became known as the Mound Steps. In 1972 they were renamed 'John Knox Way' in commemoration of 400 years since the death of the Protestant reformer. However the Cockburn Association found this name anachronistic, given that the Mound did not exist until long after Knox's death, and campaigned for a name change. In early 1978, Edinburgh Councillors duly voted 14 to 4 in support of a proposal that the name be changed to the Playfair Steps, and they were re-opened with that name by Lord Provost Kenneth Borthwick on 21st April that year.


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