Moorgate got its name from the Moorfields, an open area of land located just north of the city. Although Moorgate itself was demolished, the name survives today as a major street and area within the City of London financial district. The street called Moorgate was constructed during the 1840s.

The Moorfields were one of the last pieces of open land in the City of London. The fields were divided into three areas: the Moorfields proper, just inside the City boundaries, north of Bethlem Royal Hospital (also known as Bedlam, Europe’s oldest psychiatric hospital), and Middle and Upper Moorfields (both also open fields) to the north.

The London Dispensary for curing diseases of the Eye and Ear was founded on the Moorfields in 1805, and evolved to become the present Moorfields Eye Hospital, which is now located on City Road and is close to Old Street station.

Moorfields was the site of the first hydrogen balloon flight in England, when Italian Vincenzo Lunardi took off on the afternoon of 15 September 1784. Lunardi flew in a hydrogen balloon from the area of the Honourable Artillery Company.

Much of Moorfields was developed and turned into present day Finsbury Circus.

The Moorgate area has been the site of several significant events through history. It was birthplace of poet John Keats – born in 1795 at the Swan and Hoop Inn, which was located at 199 Moorgate.

When Moorgate was demolished with all the other London city wall gates in 1761/2, the resulting stone was sold for £166 to the City of London Corporation to support the widening of the centre arch of the London Bridge.

Moorgate station was opened by the Metropolitan Railway in December 1865 when they extended their original route between Paddington and Farringdon.

The Northern line platforms were opened by the City & South London Railway as Moorgate Street in February 1900 and formed the northern terminus of its services from Stockwell south of the River Thames. The line was extended to Angel the following year.

The Northern City Line to Moorgate was opened by the Great Northern & City Railway in February 1904 offering a service to Finsbury Park. The route was constructed in tube tunnels, but they were constructed at a diameter capable of accommodating main line trains (in contrast to the majority of London tube tunels which are much smaller). The planned through services to the Great Northern Railway’s main line were never implemented, and the route remained a simple short route between Moorgate and Finsbury Park, later cut back to run between Moorgate and Drayton Park only, due to Victoria Line construction in the 1960s.

Moorgate station is remembered for the Moorgate tube crash of 1975. In the incident, a train terminating at the station failed to stop and crashed into a brick wall, and 43 people were killed. This resulted in systems being installed on the Underground which automatically stop trains at dead-ends, which have become known as the ’Moorgate control’.

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