The station was opened on 10 March 1906 by the Baker Street and Waterloo Railway (now the Bakerloo line) with the platforms of the Great Northern, Piccadilly and Brompton Railway (now the Piccadilly line) being opened on 15 December 1906. As originally built it had, like other stations, a surface booking hall (designed, like many in central London built at that time, by Leslie Green). The development of traffic before and after World War I meant that the need for improved station facilities was acute. It was decided to construct a sub-surface booking hall and circulating area, which would also provide public pedestrian subways, and work was begun to February 1925 and completed in 1928, the architect was Charles Holden and the builder was John Mowlem & Co: the whole complex cost more than half-a-million pounds. Eleven escalators were provided in two flights, leading to the two lines serving the station.
The old station building finally closed for traffic on 21 July 1929, it was demolished in the 1980s when the large building on the corner of Piccadilly Circus and Haymarket was constructed.
The Bakerloo line platforms at Piccadilly Circus offer a unique view on the network: the back to back layout is itself unusual, but the single tunnel containing a crossover at the north end of the station allows passengers to see both platforms at once. This station can act as an intermediate terminus for southbound Bakerloo Line trains.
The station was heavily featured in the 1986 video for Press by Sir Paul McCartney. McCartney is seen walking boldly, proudly and with supreme confidence around the station, elegantly catching a tube train and speaking with excited members of the general public on their own level. Along with Bond Street, the station is a popular pilgrimage site for McCartney fans keen to reenact the video, that is now regarded as one of music video's defining moments, known amongst fans as 'McPressing'. In 2006 a total of 76 Brazilian fans 'McPressed' at the same time, breaking the previous record by 11 people set by Oxford Brookes University students in 1991.
It is one of the few stations which have no associated buildings above ground, the station being fully underground, although some have the booking hall there (Leicester Square and Oxford Circus being two examples).
Piccadilly Circus is a proposed stop on the Chelsea-Hackney Line, also known as the Crossrail 2. It would be between Victoria and Tottenham Court Road stations. Effectively a new station would have to be built under the existing levels, possibly as part of a major overhaul of the existing buildings. However there will only be a stop at Piccadilly Circus if the Chelsea-Hackney Line is part of the London Underground network and not part of the National Rail network this is the same situation with many stations on the proposed route in Central London. The Chelsea-Hackney Line is not likely to be completed until at least 2022.
A linear world clock in the station's ticket hall. The band running across the centre moves across the static map at the same pace as the sun above ground. An arrow fixed on Greenwich shows the current time in London.