There’s very little as rewarding as exploring, discovering and learning about the city you live in. Over time, you begin to pick up on the visual clues that let you know you’re home; those features that make your city, well, your city. East London is a particularly fascinating place, changing so rapidly that not a day goes past without some new venture emerging and someone complaining that the area “isn’t what it used to be”. Indeed, east London is definitely not what it used to be. The area has seen massive change in the ten years it’s been part of my life, and especially so in the four years it’s been my home. But that’s exactly why I love it. Here are five signs that let me know I’m in my part of the city. If you think I’ve missed any add, add them in the comments!
It’s been over a year since east London hosted the Olympics, but the legacy is still very much visible. Get your sight-lines right and you’d be surprised by how far away you can see the peaks of the Olympic Stadium emerging into view (and, somewhat unfortunately, the Orbit too).
The Abandoned Pub
The abandoned pub is a classic East End sight. This is way before my time, but there must have been an era when east London had a pub on every street corner. Many have fallen into disrepair (this one above was torn down and turned into a block of flats) or found a new use. But their distinctive architectural form lets you know they were once a public house.
The Coffee Shop
London has developed a pretty impressive coffee scene in recent years, and it’s centred east of the city. Likely enticed by cheaper rents and a community of creatives (read: cheap labour), it’s a pretty easy task to find a pretty decent coffee when you’re in east London.
East London is the home of pop-up London. The area is home to much of London’s creative industries, and also has a lot of unused buildings or land. As a result, temporary or semi-permanent developments are a common site.
There was a time when living east of the city was very undesirable. For many, that is still the case. But the general trend is a population increase, and with that comes a surge of development. London’s skyscrapers are stretching east, out into areas that were once suffering from population loss. The sight of a tower block emerging next door to a modest Victorian building is not rare in east London.
What signs from your city let you know you’re home?