IAN & JENNY FLACK’S LONDON MONOPOLY WALK FOR THE FIFTY 50 CHALLENGE
The game of Monopoly has bonded (and fractured) many family holidays. There are so many economic lessons to be learned from this game, lessons that its inventor Elizabeth Maggie was wanting to convey, but the world as a whole now just seem to totally miss.
Jeremy has written before about the interesting origins of the game. Click here to read about this.
There are 40 spaces that surround the perimeter of the Monopoly board and myself and my wife Jenny recently physically walked the real board in London; the whole 28 km stopping at all 28 properties; that’s 22 streets, 4 railroads, 2 utilities and a goal, all in their various colors. Thanks to Jenny for the pictures.
To learn more about the Fifty50 challenge click here: www.fifty50challenge.org
Our Monopoly walk started in Fleet St where we were staying. We talk about the impact that our 5 Drivers have on the economy and it’s hard to think of a single driver having more impact than what happened in Fleet Street courtesy of William Caxton and his astute foresight for the potential of the printing press. In 1475, William set up England’s first printing press and printed the book “The Recuyell”
In 1501 Wynkyn de Worde, a former employee of Caxton popularised the concept of printed books and moved the business to Fleet Street where the publication industry flourished.
The advent of the publishing industry had an enormous impact on society, the direction it took and how information was disseminated. It has had a tremendous impact on the improvement of education and literacy within society and the associated increase in the productive output of workers.
Such a technological game changer cannot be underestimated as to the impact it’s had on society. But you know what, at the end of the day, as living and educational standards have drastically improved, all that really happened was that while the printing press was knocking up some books it was also printing brand new crisp dollar bills for everyone that owned land. And unlike those that had to PAY for their books – the money was just handed out Robin Hood style to landlords…
A short walk to the Strand and we pass by the Australian Embassy. We are feeling pretty good as we head off to Picadilly.
Piccadill – do you know what one is?
No, I didn’t either. Apparently, a Piccadill is a “large broad collar of cut-work lace that became fashionable in the late 16th century and early 17th century.” The word derives its meaning from the Spanish word picadillo, meaning punctured or pierced.
Apparently, Piccadilly Street is believed to be named after the piccadill, as landowner Robert Baker made his fortune from them. See even the economic gains from a fine Piccadill can’t escape the land cycle…
It is still pretty quiet as we get to Leicester Square around 8 am.
Literally a hop and a skip to Coventry St and the London Trocadero. We had stayed in the Trocadero district in Paris a few weeks earlier overlooking the Eiffel Tower. The same names keep popping up.
Around the corner to the impressive grand buildings of Regent St.
Still a bit eerily quiet as we arrive at Trafalgar square. It is very humid with the 3rd day of temperatures around 28 degrees in London. The locals are struggling with the heat and although we think 28 is mild you need to understand the sun is up until 10 pm and rises again around 4.30am so the overnight lows are a few degrees below the lows. Combined with no air conditioning and buildings designed to keep the heat in conditions are quite oppressive.
Now we are heading to Oxford St where British department store John Lewis is currently trialing a scheme allowing customers to sell back unwanted clothing in an attempt to reduce the 300,000 tonnes of apparel sent to UK landfills each year.
Population growth is seen as a continual economic driver, however, improvements to our environment via social and recreational amenities will drive the locational value of land. Sporting complexes, coffee strips, and other entertainment precincts which in turn continually impact investment valuations.
Oxford street is synonymous with shopping. An extended mile of shops housing some of London’s most iconic brands line this busy street.
But did you know Oxford Street played an important role in the creation of hundreds of millions of dollars via a government granted license called royalties?
See in 1962, Brian Epstein, manager of the iconic pop group The Beatles, was distributing demo tapes of the band to His Master’s Voice (HMV) in Oxford Street. A disk cutter, so the story goes, was so excited with what he heard he took the tapes directly upstairs and George Martin from Parlophone Records was contacted and it started a rock n’ roll revolution! (and plenty of royalties protected and sanctioned by the government!)?
Want to hear a rumor?
Supposedly there is a secret underground which is somewhere under the basements of Forever 21 and Selfridges. The secret place is rumored to be surrounded by cobblestones and deserted Victorian shops…..
The streets are getting busier and I am contemplating why we are walking and not using the tube to get around as we arrive at Bond St Station. Most shops are still not open as we near 10 am.
Now we are heading off with anticipation towards Mayfair. We are interested in what we will find and go out of our way to walk around several blocks to see what different homes we will find. It was a bit of a surprise that there wasn’t much difference from street to street. They were all very similar to the apartments in the photos. There are electronic surveillance warning signs everywhere. No surprise really in one street we passed a Ferrari, a Bentley Mercedes SLS and a Lotus tightly parallel parked.
Keeping with our music theme, what do Jimmy Hendrix, Handel, and the Bee Gees all have in common?
Believe it or not, they all lived in Brook Street Mayfair. In fact, Jimmy Hendrix and Handel would have been neighbors at 23 and 25 Brook Street. Those two would have made for a hell of a Christmas Street party!
Mayfair so named after the “May Fair” that took place every year from 1686 to 1764 and boast some of the most exclusive properties in the world. Prices of £10-30,000,000 are not seen as unreasonable for a pad without parking!
The locational value of land in Mayfair is nothing short of stunning and provides some indication as to just where property prices in Australia can end up next cycle and the cycles after that.
We know that productivity just continually capitalises back into the land price so just never say never when it comes to housing prices….
Park Lane is on the edge of Mayfair and is pretty much more of the same.
Next, we headed off to Marylebone Station along the way near Regent Park we passed a former home of John Lennon. A walk through Regent Park revealed a pusher jam of nannies walking babies along the paths.
Marylebone Station is a beautiful building which was starting to get busy as we neared midday.
Along the way to Kings Cross Station, we passed Sherlock Holmes residence at 221B Baker St. Amazing how this fictional character from 1887 is attracting crowds to visits to the Sherlock Holmes museum and walking tours 130 years later.
Quality infrastructure helps to ensure continual productivity gains. The impact of land price is well documented by such developments as the Canary Wharf project.
Transportation projects are at the driving heart of the real-estate cycle.
It’s estimated that Kings Cross Station staggeringly moves more than 50 million passengers each year including Harry Potter and his collection of wizardry friends needing to catch the Hogwarts Express from the famous Platform 9 ¾.
The development of King’s Cross dates back to December 1848 when an updated construction project replaced a temporary station built at Maiden Lane. A recent £500M renovation will be followed up by a further £237 million spend in 2020.
As well as being home to the famous Platform 9 ¾, Kings Cross Station is the only railway station in London that has Platform 0.
As we leave Kings Cross Station we are now heading to Liverpool St Station.
We walked for an hour along Euston Road part of the London inner ring road and part of the border of the congestion zone.
Next was Pentonville road built to service the town of Pentonville. After the arrival of the railways in the 1840’s Pentonville was the home to many factories and commercial buildings in the 19th and 20th centuries as they moved out of the city and into suburbia.
Whitechapel Road in the East End is part of the original Roman road to Colchester and looks like the Romans might have been the last to spend some money on maintenance.
We are a bit disappointed to arrive at the Angel Islington and after some local research find it was an old corner building which has been redeveloped several times.
As we reach Fenchurch St, the last of the Stations, we are feeling a bit weary knowing we are about to commence the long trek out to Old Kent Rd. Knowing we are doing this for a good cause keeps us going.
Go to Jail
Have you heard the saying “He’s in the Clink” or “You’ll end up in the Clink”?
Well, this saying is referring to the oldest prison in Southwark, England – “The Clink” which has a long history dating back to 1144.
Interestingly the Bishop of Winchester has owned a prison in one form or another since the year 860 and the Clink was a notorious landmark for thieves, scoundrels, tax dodgers, and heretics.
Being poorly paid, jailers (ie the prison guards) became quite inventive in the ways they could supplement their income. As usual, those with money were able to influence their surroundings ensuring life was a little more comfortable than for those without means.
Beds and bedding were available for hire. Candles could be purchased as could lighter more comfortable restraints. Food and drink from outside were available Uber Eats style, you just had to pay a little grease money to the right folk to ensure your hot dinner arrived on time.
As always, EVERYTHING was available for a price….
Finally, around 4 pm we arrive at Old Kent Rd. It is obvious why it is at the opposite end of the board to Mayfair. Now it is time for the trek back to central London and our next stop Bow St.
During the 1700-1800s Bow Street was a wild place. Known for its bordellos, unsavory scallywags and all the associated riffraff that congregate around such locations. It’s no wonder it was where we find another one of our drivers manifesting in a creative manner here.
See pre-1749 there was no professional police force in London. The law was enforced by private citizens who had the right and duty to prosecute crimes.
The state had encouraged such behaviors by offering rewards for the arrest and prosecutions of offenders. In 1692 the conviction of a highwayman put £40 in your pocket. Post-1720, after the end of the War of Spanish Succession capture and conviction of a highwayman, gave you £100.
However, in 1749 magistrate Henry Fielding founded the Bow Street Runners – a ragtag bunch of six blokes that are now formally considered the first British police force.
The Bow Street Runners were formally attached to the Bow Street magistrates’ office, specifically Fielding’s office and court and were paid by funds from the central government.
Having the rule of law is important for us as speculators so that we are able to confidently participate in the investment cycle. Failure of this requirement doesn’t mean that that the cycle cannot continue to manifest, however, it does bring added risk and complexity in retaining one’s funds and not having them stolen. This helps explain why there is so much Chinese money flow around the world currently…..
The Sofitel in Pall Mall, this is where our good friend Phil Anderson likes to meet when he’s in London.
It’s quintessential English. The opulent surrounds and comfortable couches. The whole place just oozes “Economic Rent’ and it’s here that we will find Phil. Quietly reading, sipping tea while contemplating world investment markets.
The name Pall Mall comes from the famous ball game in the 1700s pall mall or pelemele from the Latin word ‘pallamaglio’ which translates to mallet ball.
The basis of the game is to strike a ball with a wooden mallet through an iron ring much like the game of croquet.
This riveting Royal and upper-class sporting pastime was a derivation of “jeu de mail”, a French form of ground billiards.
Pall Mall was first played in the district around 1630. However, upon King Charles II’s return to London in 1660, the king lashed out with some serious infrastructure spending under the “Streets, of London and Westminster Act 1662” and a new pall-mall court was constructed in St James’s Park.
Further, a new road, Catherine Street so named after Charles wife, was built on the site of the old pall-mall court, however, the name Catherine Street never stuck and the road was better known as Pall Mall Street or the Old Pall Mall.
Pall Mall also lays claim to being one of the first London streets to be lit by gas
In 1807 in celebration of King George III’s birthday, Frederick Winsor set up some experimental lighting.
This simple feat would have been monumental within the context of the time and should remind us of the importance of both knowing and appreciating our history within the context of the time so that we shall never utter the words, “this time it’s different”
Gas Lights today. Augmented reality and asteroid mining tomorrow. Same, Same but different!
Marlborough St was buzzing when we arrived and it was hard to not stop and relax but not far to go now so we trudged off to look for Vine St. On the way we found this Big Issue seller in Regent St.
The Big Issue is an excellent example of the David Ricardo’s Law of Economic Rent working before us. Despite the fact that not many sellers of the Big Issues have been awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in Economics; they quickly worked out that land has a natural locational advantage.
By securing a busier location with lots of foot traffic they are going to sell more magazines and make more money for the same effort but in a less crowded location.
Here in Regent Street, we spied this hard-working Big Issue vendor. We are all hoping that this poor dog can sell enough magazines to purchase their own kennel and get off the cold, grubby streets of London.
On the surface, it is hard to understand why a dead end street made the Monopoly Board. A bit of research reveals previously it was a major street, shortened during the building of Regent Street.
It was once home to the Vine Street Police Station where in 1895 the Marquess of Queensberry was charged with libel against Oscar Wilde.
It is nearing 7 pm as we arrive at Whitehall wishing we had more time to explore the grand old buildings everywhere.
Around the corner, to our last stop, Northumberland Avenue and we have completed our walk around the Monopoly Board. It is 8.30 pm and we are really glad we did it; a great way to see London and of course for a great cause. We are looking forward to getting back to our room and having a shower, too exhausted to think about a meal.
We passed the City of London Statue on our walk home along the Thames. Not a major landmark, however, it seemed a fitting place to say goodbye to our London Walk.
As you can see from my face I have had enough at this stage.
Monopoly is a fun and entertaining game. But please remember its history. Please take the time to understand what its inventor Elizabeth Maggie was trying to convey.
It’s a brutal game that provides an excellent representation of life. How unfair it is and how many playing the game do not even understand the rules.
Understanding the rules of monopoly and how our definable underlying drivers are built into the DNA of our economic system places you in a very powerful position.
Couple this with our understanding of the cycle and WOW you are in a position to make some very astute investment decisions.
Although this article has just been a bit of fun, and Ian’s walk has helped raise the profile to the Fifty50 Challenge it’s important to remember that this charity is working WITH the rules as we have discussed above.
Unlike most sectors of society which includes the finance industry, our education facilities, and charitable organizations, they do not understand the rules. They are unable to help support sustainable charitable ventures because as hard as they try, and no matter how well intended, they are breaking some of the fundamental economic rules which dooms them to fail.
That’s what we love about Jordy and the work he does.
He’s working WITH the economic DNA. He’s creating real and sustainable change because he is NOT breaking the fundamental economic rules that rule our societies.
The rules that are hidden in plain sight for all to see but instead as a society we accept foreseeable “black swan events” like the GFC and unaffordable housing.
There is a lot that can be learned from a 28km walk around the Monopoly board of London.
The record for longest Monopoly game lasted for 70 days.
$20,580 – the sum of money in a regular game of Monopoly.
Rich Uncle Pennybags, the icon for Monopoly, may have been patterned after the renowned businessman JP Morgan. Being very influential and the founding man of the United States Steel Corporation – a monopoly in itself, this is quite possible.
During its 80th anniversary, 80 out of 30,000 fortunate individuals received real money in the limited anniversary edition of Monopoly. That is, these people received 20,580 euros after purchasing the anniversary boxes.
The original Monopoly die-cast tokens were inspired by Darrow’s nieces, who recommended metal charms from charm bracelets. 10 metal tokens, representing an iron, purse, lantern, race car, thimble, shoe, top hat, battleship, cannon and rocking horse.
The Monopoly board is based on Atlantic City, New Jersey. The London version was the first licensed Monopoly game. To make the game relevant to British consumers, the names of the properties were changed to well-known streets in London. This is a practice that continues today whenever the game is introduced to a new country. Currently, Monopoly is published in 47 languages and sold in 114 countries.
More than 300 licensed versions of the Monopoly game have been themed to topics such as sports teams and movies like “Despicable Me.”
Monopoly was introduced for the iPhone in 2008.
In 1998, San Francisco jeweler Sidney Mobell created the most expensive Monopoly set in the world, valued at $2 million.
During World War 11 Escape maps, compasses and files were inserted into Monopoly game boards smuggled into POW camps inside Germany during World War II. Real money for escapees was slipped into the packs of Monopoly money also.
The rules state “The Bank “never goes broke.” If the Bank runs out of money, the Banker may issue as much as needed by writing on any ordinary paper.”
There are 32 houses and 12 hotels in a game of Monopoly. However, unlike money, there is a finite supply and no substitutes are allowed.