The entirety of Princes Street falls within the UNESCO World Heritage site of New Town. Elite classes escaping Old Town's slums and cramped, medieval streets moved into the handsome rowhomes and opulent villas designed in 1766 in one of the first strokes of urban planning. A network of squares, streets, terraces, and circuses named in honour of King George and his family reaches along the uphill slopes rising above Princes Street Gardens. Flower beds and mowed lawns gentrify the popular terraces of the drained Nor' Loch, once a foul, open sewer. Author Sir Walter Scott's monument, a gothic steeple in dramatic black, adorns one end. Notable institutions crown the Mound, an artificial hill that alone intrudes upon unrestricted views of Old Town and Edinburgh Castle rising in jagged waves. New College's graceful spires and the Bank of Scotland's domed headquarters crown the steep slopes next to the Grecian temples housing the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Gallery.
Premier hotels and chain stores jockey for prominence along Edinburgh's main shopping street, the likes of H&M and Zara alongside Waterstones Booksellers and BHS. Arched windows and neoclassical colonnades march above gaudy marquees and brand signs limited to a largely monochromatic palette. Waverley Bridge carries traffic into the congested epicenter, sandstone stairs descending to Waverley Station below. Trains plying the rails and trams trundling past add to the kinetic atmosphere.