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King's Cross was originally designed and built as the London hub of the Great Northern Railway and terminus of the East Coast Main Line.
The station was designed by Lewis Cubitt and constructed in two years from 1851 to 1852, on the site of a former fever and smallpox hospital. The main part of the station, which today includes platforms 1 to 8, was opened on 14 October 1852. It replaced a temporary terminus at Maiden Lane that had opened on 8 August 1850.
The platforms have been reconfigured several times; originally there was only one arrival and one departure platform (today's platforms 1 and 8 respectively), with the space between used for carriage sidings. In later years as suburban traffic grew, space for additional platforms was added with considerably less grandeur; the secondary building now containing platforms 9-11 survives from that era.