The Square is named after Robert Sidney, 2nd Earl of Leicester, who purchased land in St. Martin's Field in 1630. By the 19th century, Leicester Square was known as an entertainment venue, and also housed several hotels. It was popular with overseas residents and visitors to London. A large theatre, the Alhambra, built in 1854, dominated the site. Now, in the middle of the Square is a small park, in the centre of which is a statue of William Shakespeare surrounded by dolphins. It is claimed that the Square contains the cinema with the largest screen and the cinema with the most seats. The square is the prime location in London for major film premieres. The square remains the heart of the West End entertainment district even today.
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