On early Tube plans, the station was listed as Cranbourn Street, but the present name was used when the station first opened, on 15 December 1906.
Like other stations on the original sections of the Piccadilly and Northern Lines, the station was originally constructed with lifts providing access to the platforms. The increase in passenger numbers in the 1920s as the Northern line was extended north (to Edgware) and south (to Morden) and the expected further increase from the 1930s extensions of the Piccadilly Line lead to the reconstruction of the station below ground in the early 1930s. New station entrances were constructed to a new sub-surface ticket hall. As with the similar sub-surface ticket hall previously built at Piccadilly Circus this was excavated partially under the roadway. From there banks of escalators were provided down to both sets of platforms. The redundant lifts were removed but the lift shaft remains in use as a ventilation shaft hidden behind a small door on the first landing of the Cranbourn street entrance stairs.
The escalators down to the Piccadilly Line were the longest on the entire Underground network, being 54 m (177 ft) in length, until the rebuilding and reopening of Angel in 1992, which overtook Leicester Square with its 60 m (197 ft) escalators.
Offices above the red terracotta station building on the east side of Charing Cross Road are occupied by the Northern Line management staff. The building, known as Transad House, was in its early years, occupied by the publishers of the Wisden Cricketers' Almanack and an image of cricket stumps appears above a door way.
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