My apartment search over the last four months has rarely been something I could describe as pleasant. However, as things look to have finally resolved themselves this past week, I decided to post one of the positive results of my weekly adventures in flat viewing; that being getting to explore East London in great detail. East London I think still carries fairly negative connotations among many who know London, and probably isn't known by many who don't, with places like South Kensington, Chelsea, and Knightsbridge leading the pack in perceived desirability and dominating the news. The 2012 Olympics development has probably started to put the East back on the map, quite intentionally of course, as the UK and London City governments intend to use the Olympic construction activity to help redevelop large parts of Eastern London, as they hope to bring the parks, services, and infrastructure closer to that in the West.
Traditionally East London has been an interesting mix of industrial and working class neighborhoods dotted with factories, warehouses, rail lines and canals. Much of that still exists today, but given the conveniences of living in these central areas many have relatively recently become havens for yuppies, hipsters, students, and artists of varying sorts. The result has been new residential builds on the canals, warehouse conversions with beautiful exposed brickwork and 12ft ceilings, and cool secret cafes and clubs buried behind what often looks like former loading docks or back alleys. Having lived in London for several years, I wasn’t totally sold on the East upon arrival, but after spending more time there, I have really come to love the grittiness and variety the East side offers. I’ve nothing against the Western areas, but there is clearly a certain vibe and liveliness in these areas, not to mention youthfulness, that isn’t often found elsewhere in tamer, wealthier, and perhaps better known areas.
In any case, these are snapshots from my various wanderings in these areas, often just highlighting a particular corner or area I found interesting. While the exact area I now appear to be moving to isn’t quite this gritty, it’s well placed in the middle of such areas, and will be a good base from which to explore them further. At least one person has made a comment that all I've done is found Moscow in London, and who knows, perhaps there is some truth to that...!