Fitzrovia lies partly in the City of Westminster (in the west), and partly in the London Borough of Camden (in the east); north of Oxford Street and Soho between Bloomsbury and Marylebone. It is characterised by its mixed-use of residential, business, retail, education and healthcare, with no single activity dominating. The historically bohemian area was once home to such writers as Virginia Woolf, George Bernard Shaw, and Arthur Rimbaud.
In 2016, The Sunday Times named the district as the best place to live in London.
The area was laid out in the mid 18th century on open fields, the boundaries of which can still be discerned from the orientation of Rathbone Street.
As far as possible within the existing pattern of land ownership, a typical 18th century grid of streets was laid out, but this was distorted by the line of Rathbone Street and the north end of Newman Street.
The street blocks were set out in small scale domestic plots for the erection of houses. By the end of the 19th century however, the area was no longer completely residential, and plots were frequently amalgamated for the erection of larger commercial and semi-industrial buildings or for the erection of mansion blocks.
The Cleveland Street Conservation Area forms a small part of a Georgian gridiron of streets laid out around Fitzroy Square. This was part of the extensive Southampton Estate (stretching to Euston Square and beyond) which in the late 18th century belonged to the Fitzroy family.
Fitzroy Square was laid out in 1790 and the south and east sides were quickly built up behind facades designed by the Adam brothers. Cleveland Street was laid out at about the same time as Fitzroy Square. The area, however, was never a great social success and the other two sides of Fitzroy Square were not completed until the late 1820s. Surrounding streets mirrored this slow pace of development.
Some redevelopment took place in the late 19th century. This reflected the reduced social standing of the area. Rear yards were filled in with industrial buildings and mansion blocks tended to replace terraced houses. Today the Fitzrovia area as a whole contains a thriving residential community and a lively mixture of uses.