George Street resides above the common commercial concerns of Princes Street, home to only the most exclusive boutiques and upscale designs in Europe. Bronze statues immortalize the leading figures of the age from King George IV, the namesake of the road, Prime Minister William Pitt to brilliant physicist James Clerk Maxwell. Fluted columns and arched porticos animate its eloquent stone facades into lyrical celebrations of classical architecture that fortunately few businesses dare to alter. World Heritage status memorializes the epitome of urban planning executed here with the utmost precision, creating an orderly, beautiful neighbourhood in the highest expression of the Scottish Enlightenment. Georgian tenements face orderly terraces, shops restricted to the lowest level hosting posh restaurants, star-studded jewelers, and pricy clothiers with names like Prada, Harvey Nichols, and Brooks Brothers.
Rowhouses tracing the curves of tidy circuses and lining the squares laid out in a geometric grid contain embassies and private clubs, luxury boutique hotels and only rarely actual residences. Surprisingly many cocktail bars occupy splendid digs in former bank headquarters, though only the Royal Bank of Scotland maintains a presence in its Palladian mansion. Prohibitively high property taxes limit George Street to a select few, the inheritors of family fortunes and the self-made men who idolize them.