Shaped like a bow, the original street of the 1630s ran from Floral Street to Tavistock Street. It was later extended north to Long Acre and south to the Strand via Wellington Street. As early as 1632, the vicinity of Bow Street and Drury Lane became known as 'Thieving Alley', which was increasingly "Troblinge the adjacent areas... by lewdest Blades and female Naughty-packs"!
In 1637 Bow Street was set out with good-class housing and shops. But with the coming of the Civil War, the area deteriorated once again. Many grand houses owned by Royalists were left empty and vandalised. After the battle of Naseby, Oliver Cromwell who had been living in the fashionable shopping area of Long Acre until 1645, moved to Bow Street.