Prior to the late 18th century, the center of Edinburgh was a lake called Nor Loch. During the construction of New Town in the 1770s and 1820s – an urban expansion project for the city – the water was drained and filled with excavated dirt. In 1876, the land became Princes Street Gardens. This public park is divided into two sections. The west end has 29 acres and the smaller east end has 8.5 acres. Surrounding this lovely greenspace are many of the city’s most historic landmarks.