Charles Dickens took up residence in Furnivall's Inn, now covered by the old Prudential building now named as 'Holborn Bars' designed by Alfred Waterhouse. The Bars were the boundary of the City of London until 1994 but only the area of the south-side of Holborn was under its jurisdiction. Dickens also put his character 'Pip', in Great Expectations, in residence at Barnard's Inn opposite, the current home of Gresham College, and Staple Inn notable for being used as the promotional image for "Old Holborn" tobacco. The three of these were Inns of Chancery. The most northerly of the Inns of Court, Gray's Inn, is in Holborn as is Lincoln's Inn. This demonstrates the area's connection with the legal professions since mediaeval times.
Over the coming years the area began to diversify and become recognisable as the modern street. A plaque stands at number 120 commemorating Thomas Earnshaw's invention of the Marine chronometer, one of the catalysts which facilitated long-distance travel.
In the modern era High Holborn has become a centre for entertainment venues. Twenty two inns or taverns are recorded in the 1860s. Originally Weston's Music Hall, the Holborn Empire stood between 1857 and 1960 when it was pulled down after structural damage sustained in the Blitz. The theatre premièred the first full-length feature film in 1914, The World, the Flesh and the Devil, a 50-minute melodrama filmed in Kinemacolour. At the corner of Hatton Garden was the old family department store of Gamages. Until 1992, the London Weather Centre was located in the street.
The Prudential insurance company relocated in 2002. The Daily Mirror offices used to be directly opposite it, but the site is now occupied by the J Sainsbury head office. Further east in the gated avenue of Ely Place is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in London, St Etheldreda's Church. Ely Place is on the site of what was from 1300 until 1772, the site of the Bishop of Ely’s London palace. This ecclesiastic connection allowed the street to remain part of the county of Cambridgeshire until the mid-1930s. Hatton Garden, the centre of the Diamond trade was leased to a favourite of Queen Elizabeth, Sir Christopher Hatton at the insistence of the Queen to provide him with an income. Behind the Prudential Building lies the Anglo Catholic church of St Alban the Martyr. Originally built in 1863 by architect William Butterfield it was destroyed in 1941 and a new church was built in the Victorian Gothic style. On the southern side lie Chancery Lane and Fetter Lane.
On Holborn Circus lies the Church of St Andrew, an ancient Guild Church, that survived the Great Fire of London. However, the parochial authority decided, nevertheless, to commission Sir Christopher Wren to rebuild it. Although the nave was destroyed in the Blitz, the reconstruction was faithful to Wren's original. In the middle of the circus there is a large equestrian statue of Prince Albert by Charles Bacon (1874) the City's official monument to him. It was presented by Charles Oppenheim, of the Diamond Trading Company De Beers, whose headquarters building is on nearby Charterhouse Street.
In the early twenty-first century, Holborn has been the site of new offices and hotels, which have exploited its excellent public transport links (Holborn underground station is the junction of the Central and Piccadilly lines), and its strategic location between the City of London and the West End.