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Why is the Leaky Cauldron¹ famous?

‘This is it,’ said Hagrid, coming to a halt, ‘the Leaky Cauldron. It’s a famous place.’


For a famous place, it was very dark and shabby.

Philosopher's Stone - pages 53-54 - Bloomsbury - chapter 5, Diagon Alley

At first I thought perhaps the Leaky Cauldron was famous because it is so old, but then I thought a more fitting word in those circumstances would be "historical". "Famous" implies that something of great importance happened at the Leaky Cauldron, an incident of sorts. Is there anything in canon that explains why the Leaky Cauldron is famous?

★ I'm looking for an answer based in canon (the Harry Potter novels and three supplemental books, any interviews with J.K. Rowling, or information from Pottermore) and do not prefer an answer from the HP Wikia or Wikipedia.

¹Although it should be obvious, I will pre-emptively clarify that I am asking about the pub the Leaky Cauldron in the Harry Potter novels and not The Leaky Cauldron the website.

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I wouldn't take anything Hagrid says as gospel. –  Jack B Nimble Nov 14 '12 at 16:40
I point of semantics: I disagree with the conclusion that "famous" implies some momentous event occurred there. Many restaurants and bars are "famous" for their food. Some places are famous for being places to be seen, or even for having unusual architecture. Some could be considered famous for being good locations for hearing and sharing gossip. I suspect at least a few of the reasons I listed are good candidates for the Leaky Cauldron's fame. –  Beofett Nov 14 '12 at 17:12
I concur with @Beofett - in normal muggle usage, a "famous" inn would not even primarily imply some event occurred there. I'd be more likely to think of the quality of the food, or in this case perhaps the drink! –  Mark Beadles Nov 14 '12 at 17:27
...some places are famous just for being historical. –  Gorchestopher H Nov 14 '12 at 17:28

2 Answers 2

up vote 10 down vote accepted

My theory is that the Leaky Cauldron is either the only way, or one of very few ways, for Muggle-born witches and wizards and their Muggle families to enter Diagon Alley from London.

There's a Wikipedia article called Places in Harry Potter which says the following on the subject:

The pub serves as a way of entering into Diagon Alley from the Muggle world for Muggle-borns and their parents (both of whom, until the first letter from Hogwarts, have no magical knowledge or means of entering). The rear of The Leaky Cauldron opens onto a chilly little courtyard where a brick (found by counting three up and two across from a dustbin) is tapped three times.

(This information isn't cited, but it's fairly common knowledge from the first book.)

The pub probably is not famous in its own right, but rather it is well-known because of its being a portal to Diagon Alley (which is very well-known as a shopping district for wizards and others).

This question provides some insight on other methods of gaining entry to Diagon Alley. It seems that the Leaky Cauldron is the only physical location from which one can enter. (There may be one more, but it's thus far unconfirmed.)

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It's also possible that he meant "famous" as in "2. Informal excellent; splendid." It fits with Hagrid's character that he would find a shabby pub to be excellent and/or splendid.

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