Ealing is a suburban area of west London, England and the administrative centre of the London Borough of Ealing. It is located 7.9 miles (12.7 km) west of Charing Cross and around 12 miles (19.3 km) from the City of London. It is one of the major metropolitan centres identified in the London Plan. It was historically a rural village in the county of Middlesex and formed an ancient parish. Improvement in communications with London, culminating with the opening of the railway station in 1838, shifted the local economy to market garden supply and eventually to suburban development. As part of the growth of London in the 20th century, Ealing significantly expanded and increased in population, becoming a municipal borough in 1901 and has formed part of Greater London since 1965. It now forms a significant commercial and retail centre with a developed night time economy.