The 144-year history of one of the most influential corners in the world.

Tucked away in the northeast corner of a popular London park sits a small site where freedom of speech reigns supreme.

Since 1872, the ordinary and extraordinary have gathered in the unspectacular concrete cove in Hyde Park known as Speakers' Corner to declare their views on an array of topics, many controversial. Everything from Brexit and the Iraq War to gender equality and veganism have been up for lively and spirited speeches and debates.

Men the likes of Marcus Garvey, Karl Marx, Vladimir Lenin, and George Orwell have taken a turn at Speakers' Corner, but most days you'll find people decidedly less notorious who just want to be heard.


A man at Speakers' Corner in 2002. Photo by Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images.

Despite its serene setting, the origins of Speakers' Corner is little messier.

The location itself may have macabre origins. Hyde Park was once the spot of the Tyburn Gallows, installed in 1196. Onlookers would buy seats to watch the executions. Before people were put to death, they were allowed to make one final speech.

In 1783, the gallows were dismantled and executions were moved to the prison, but speeches and protests in Hyde Park continued. Police frequently attempted to stop the demonstrations, but the people of London continued to use the space to assemble and protest. Close to 100 years later, in 1872, Parliament set aside this particular section of the park for public oration.

Speakers' Corner in 1923. Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

For 144 years, Speakers' Corner has hosted a steady stream of lively orators.

Through their words and photos, you can see some incredible history unfold.

1. If you were passionate and well-spoken, it was easy to draw a crowd at Speakers' Corner, especially before the advent of TV.

A man addressing the crowd at Speakers' Corner in 1933. Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

2. Some speakers essentially became local celebrities, like Charlie in the 1920s.

Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

3. Religious speakers and proselytizers have always been common.

A speaker lectures on "Christianity Astray — The Bible Truth" in 1933. Photo by J. A. Hampton/Topical Press Agency/Getty Images.

4. Including rising political leaders of all stripes.

Here, a young Aneurin Bevan speaks to the crowd on May Day 1936. Bevan would go on to spearhead the creation of the National Health Service.

Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images.

Now, you may be thinking: 'Hey, wait a second, where are all the women and people of color?'

Great question. They have a place in Speakers' Corner history too.

5. Because free speech was celebrated and encouraged, people of color had the opportunity to speak out on issues too.

Photo by Fox Photos/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

Women, children, and families took center stage to stand up for their beliefs too.

6. This woman used her time in front of the crowd to sing a powerful hymn.

Photo by Keystone Features/Getty Images.

7. And when these women marched for equal rights, their journey started at Speakers' Corner, quite literally.

Their march to No. 10 Downing Street began near the same spot where suffragettes gathered decades prior.

Members of the National Women's  Movement, marched from Speakers' Corner to No. 10 Downing Street to celebrate International Women's Day in 1971. Photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

8. Hundreds of children marched to Speakers' Corner during a school strike in 1972.

Photo by Steve Wood/Evening Standard/Hulton Archive/Getty Images.

9. And single-parent families demanded equality in 1975.

Photo by Angela Deane-Drummond/Evening Standard/Getty Images.

10. Even with the rise of blogs, social media, and independent publishing, Speakers' Corner remains a popular place to share strongly held opinions.

Anarchists rallied at Speakers' Corner in 2009 ahead of the G-20 summit. Photo by Bruno Vincent/AFP/Getty Images.

11. Or, at the very least, a place to share the benefits of a vegan lifestyle.

Yep, that's Heather Mills. She brought a truck and a weird ad campaign to Speakers' Corner.

Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images.

Whether or not you agree with the speakers' words or causes, Speakers' Corner is a celebration of free speech and assembly.

No avatars or pen names to hide behind. Speakers literally stand up for what they believe in. And regardless of whether their opinions jibe with yours, it's a powerful remnant from an era long gone.

Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images.

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A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.

Acts of kindness and compassion are always inspiring. A veterinarian gave a different spin on the phrase "if you can't beat 'em, join 'em".

The poor little pup in this video walked into this shelter with a history of being abused. He was so traumatized that he wasn't eating. The vet treating him wasn't sure what to do, so he decided to book a table for two: a the dog's place. It is not clear whether he got an official invite from the canine in question, but he felt pretty safe about showing up unannounced. He walked into the cage and sat down next to the dog. With his back up against the corner of his new (and hopefully temporary) domain, the rescue stared apprehensively at his human guest. The vet presented a dog dish with food and put it in front of the dog. The frightened pup just looked at the dish and made no attempt to eat. Then he broke out another dog dish identical to the one he just gave to his four-legged patient and started eating out of that bowl. And then came the turning point.


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True

A lot of people here are like family to me," Michelle says about Bread for the City — a community nonprofit located in Washington DC that provides local residents with food, clothing, health care, social advocacy, and legal services. And since the pandemic began, the need to support organizations like Bread for the City is greater than ever, which is why Amazon is Delivering Smiles to local charities across the country this holiday season.

Watch the full story:

Amazon is giving back by fulfilling hundreds of AmazonSmile Charity Lists, and donating essential pantry and food items to help organizations like Bread for the City provide to those disproportionately impacted this year.

Visit AmazonSmile Charity Lists to donate directly to a local charity in your community, or simply shop smile.amazon.com and Amazon will donate a portion of the purchase price of eligible products to your charity of choice.
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