Seven Dials, a very well-known part of St. Giles's, is so called because in the seventeenth century seven roads were laid out at equal angles from a given point, where stood a Doric pillar, furnished with dials. But the dials have long since disappeared, and the pillar supporting them has been removed to Weybridge. The seven streets, however, remain. Not long ago Seven Dials had no high reputation, and the district was regarded as unsafe at night but now it has greatly improved. It is still a favourite locality for dog and bird fanciers and purveyors of gold fish-and fried fish. Our view, taken from Little Earl Street, exhibits a familiar sight - an open-air market, attended by dwellers in the surrounding streets and courts.
source: The Queen's London : a Pictorial and Descriptive Record of the Streets, Buildings, Parks and Scenery of the Great Metropolis, 1896