In the 1830s Glasgow's wealthiest merchants migrated westward and businesses were not slow to follow. By the 1850s the city's business community had commandeered the former residential areas around George Square and, in subsequent decades, this expansion continued relentlessly. Warehouses, factories and other works lined the Clyde west to Stobcross and the eastern slope of Blythswood, built up only a generation before with fine terraced houses, was redeveloped with banks, chambers and commercial premises.
Speculative office premises became a common feature starting with Bothwell Chambers (1849) at the east end of Bothwell Street and culminating in the Lion Chambers in Hope Street, a revolutionary reinforced-concrete structure of 1904. Numerous insurance companies built extravagantly decorated premises, with notable examples being Standard Life (1890) in Gordon Street and Sun Life Assurance in West George Street (1889).
In the last quarter of the 19th century, upon the completion of the Merchants House (1874) and the City Chambers (1883), George Square became the symbolic heart of the city. In 1874, the Venetian gothic Stock Exchange was erected one block west in Buchanan Street and major banks also settled nearby, including the Commercial Bank in Gordon Street, and the Bank of Scotland (1867), Clydesdale Bank (1870) and the National (now Co-operative) Bank of 1899, all located in St Vincent Place. Several important firms also constructed monumental premises in St Vincent Place (site of the city's horse-tram terminus) including the Evening Citizen newspaper (1885) and the Anchor Line (1905).
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