Until quite recently, Archway did not designate a specific area. Most people referred either to Highgate, Islington or Upper Holloway, a name that is now used for little besides the nearby railway station and the post office. The term Archway became popularised as a result of Londoners' tendency to indicate their local area by reference to the nearest Underground Station, even though the latter was called Highgate station until 1939 (and subsequently Highgate(Archway) and Archway(Highgate)).
It is said that it was at Archway that Dick Whittington heard the Bow Bells ringing and returned back to London. James Harrington, author of 'Oceania' lived on Highgate Hill, as did the poet and M.P. for Hull Andrew Marvell. Historian E.H. Carr lived on Gladesmuir Road as a child. Karl Marx, Herbert Spencer and Claudia Jones are buried up the road at Highgate cemetery. Rod Stewart was born in Archway and grew up here. Other noted residents include Arabella Weir, Alan Plater, James Heartfield and, formerly, the sculptor Rachel Whiteread, whose most famous work 'Ghost' - now in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC - consists of a plaster cast of a room in the house at 486 Archway Road. Members of The Jesus and Mary Chain also lived in Archway, as did The Boo Radleys whose cult song Blue Room in Archway namechecks the area. Zoe Heller's novel Notes on a Scandal was filmed around Archway.
In recent years Archway has seen an increase in young middle-class residents, attracted to Archway by its excellent shopping facilities, solid stock of housing, the accessibility of Hampstead Heath and Waterlow Park, and public transport connections to central London. Since 2004 the area has had its own residents' group, the Better Archway Forum.