The excursion to the Greenwich Royal Observatory was interesting in many ways than just one. First, the actual finding of the Observatory and the long trip through London to it was an adventure in itself; however, the hike up the giant and steep hill was one worthwhile, not simply for the view but for the exposure to history as well. I was not sure what to expect when I arrived at the Royal Observatory, but being able to overlook the city of London was incredible and made the whole world beneath me appear so small. The world felt even smaller as I waited in line to straddle the Prime Meridian, standing with one foot in the East and one in the West and again thought of the many conversations we had been having in our classes regarding who is able to inscribe meaning to something. The Prime Meridian, or the 0 degree longitude of the world, made me again question who was allowed to choose that this place, in England, would be the center piece of the entire world. I find it amazing that this system of longitude and latitude is universally accepted and still in use today. Every inch of the world is measured either East or West from this line, making its placement extremely important and impactful on the entire world and how we view our concept of placement on the world. In speaking of relation of who we are in various spaces, and being able to map exactly which spaces we are embodying, we essentially are using the Prime Meridian to determine this every day. As we move, our longitude and latitude alters, which if reflected based on measurements from the Prime Meridian and the Equator. Therefore, these lines have dramatically come to influence how we view our spatial identities.
This line, that in any other placement of the world we could cross without even noticing its invisible barrier, has come to be a tourist attraction in the Greenwich Royal Observatories. The actual line and physical statue representing it are gated off to the general public and require paying for tickets in order to stand near or on the line. Again, this is another example in London and our modern world in general, where something historically significant has been preserved and then pushes the public to spend money to see it in order to continue to preserve this landmark. This is how meaning comes to be ascribed to things, as is becoming more and more clear to me, anything that is deemed worth preserving must have a significant dollar value, otherwise, like the London Docklands, the area would be torn down and reconstructed into something worth a large sum of money. While these spaces are archetypally the same thing, a plot of land that we are capable of inhabiting, we as human beings have come to ascribe certain meanings and value to these places which then allows us to preserve them and consider them sacred or historically valuable.
Brief history of the Greenwich Prime Meridian of the world
Who determined it?