South Bank is 800 metres southeast of Charing Cross.
South Bank developed later than the 'North Bank' of the river due to its formerly often waterlogged condition in winter. Throughout its history, it has twice functioned as an entertainment district, interspersed by around a hundred years of wharfs, domestic industry and manufacturing being its dominant use. Restoration began in 1917 with the construction of County Hall at Lambeth replacing the Lion Brewery. Its Coade stone symbol was retained and placed on a pedestal at Westminster Bridge and is known as the South Bank Lion. The pedestrianised embankment is The Queen's Walk, which is part of the Albert Embankment built not only for public drainage but also to raise the whole tract of land to prevent flooding.
In 1951 the Festival of Britain redefined the area as a place for arts and entertainment. It now forms a significant tourist district in central London, stretching from Blackfriars Bridge in the east to Westminster Bridge in the west. A series of central London bridges connect the area to the northern bank of the Thames Golden Jubilee and Waterloo Bridge.
By the 18th century the more genteel entertainment of the pleasure gardens had developed. The shallow bank and mud flats were ideal locations for industry and docks and went on to develop as an industrial location in a patchwork of private ownership.