Planning the Alley, Part I

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a.k.a. What Shops are there anyway?

I originally had the idea to simply base the build on the Diagon Alley shown in the films, but a little bit of research revealed a much bigger shopping area than I had expected. So how many shops are there exactly? To answer it simply, a lot. Which when you think about it, does make sense. If Diagon Alley (and the surrounding area) is one of the major (if not the most important) Wizard-targeted shopping locations in the UK – it makes sense that it has a lot of shops. However, finding a comprehensive list of shops is difficult, as different maps tend to give different shop names and in different arrangements. And this is where my tendency to over-research things takes over.

So step one, identify the potential shops… and streets / shopping areas for that matter

The Harry Potter Wikia has a relatively detailed list of shops and businesses related to the Alley (and additional pages for the surrounding area), although for some reason not all are included in their main table (more are given in the links at the bottom of the page, and others turn up as a supplementary links on specific shop pages). This list takes the shop names from the actual store fronts as well as hanging signs, and advertisements. As a starting point, it is relatively good one as it derives the information from the main Harry Potter novels, as well as other related books from the Wizarding World genre, plus information from the films, all formats of video games, as well as things like the trading card games, Pottermore, illustrations, and fan-targeted Daily Prophet Newsletters.

In addition to this, the studio tours in London and Florida also provide some additional shop names and locations. While the London attraction does not add any new info, the Florida one has a much bigger Diagon Alley and environs section which adds some more previously unlisted businesses. Plus miscellaneous other sources – such as a random street plan from a Google Map – helps complete the picture.

So compiling all this information together… and cross-referencing the HP Wikia page with the original sources to make sure it is all documented means we should have a fairly comprehensive index of all the shops… right? And me being me (see that note about over-researching stuff above), I also included the shops for the other streets in the Diagon Alley area – so Knockturn Alley, Horizont Alley and Carkitt Market. What this boils down to effectively is a slightly terrifying list of approximately 128(!) shops and businesses over those 4 streets/areas. 69 of which belong to Diagon Alley. (No doubt I’ll find more shop names as I go on, but see the Index of Shops for the full list of shops and businesses, plus the sources where the names were obtained from).

On the one hand, I think we can safely say that 69 shops and other businesses are perhaps a tad over ambitious. On the other, attempting to work out an approximate map of all the shops and streets would be interesting in itself – even if I’m not planning on building that many shops (I will be doing this, and adding it to this site, just for my own amusement).

Moving aside from complex map formation – it makes sense to simplify matters, doesn’t it? If we take things back to just the books and the films – more specifically the Diagon Alley shown in The Philosopher’s Stone, and The Chamber of Secrets; it is possible to reduce to number of shops to a more manageable number. And more importantly, also have visual references that I can use as a basis for designing the facades and appearance of the street.

So effectively what I’m saying, is that after an extensive amount of research, I’m sticking with the basic idea I had in the first place…