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Initially, the street was a passageway between Wellington and Catherine Streets in 1630s. The first mention of the street dates to 1706, until when it was part of York Street. In 1729 Caleb Waterfield erected his first house (no. 15) on the street. In 1733 James Walker built three more, and the same year Robert Umpleby built two more (becoming nos. 34–38).
In the early 19th century, the street was the location of many fashionable shops, such as are now to be found in Bond Street. The congregation of rich carriages there was said to be one of the great sights of London at this time. It then became a centre of publishing of periodicals such as Country Life (no 8, designed in 1904 by Edwin Lutyens), The Stage and Vanity Fair. The auction business Sotheby's started there as a bookseller.
- "Bow Street and Russell Street Area: The former York Street", London County Council, Covent Garden, London: British History Online, 36, pp. 196–199, 1970
- Thomas Walker (1850), The original, p. 30
- Fergus Linnane (2012) . Madams. The History Press. ISBN 978-0-7524-7338-3.
- "Southampton Street and Tavistock Street Area: Tavistock Street", London County Council, Covent Garden, London: British History Online, 36, pp. 218–219, 1970
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