For years, East London was an industrial wasteland, known for its run-down warehouses, gritty streets, poverty and crime.But ever since London won the bid to host the 2012 Olympics in 2005—and even before then—this neighbourhood has changed beyond recognition, becoming one of the coolest areas in town.
This formerly gritty area is now home to hipsters, artists, and techies. It’s also one of the most culturally diverse areas in London, serving as a gateway hub to immigrants looking to make London their home.
Some might equate it to New York’s Lower East Side or Paris’s 19th arrondissement. Like those hipster havens, East London attracts the young and hip. Besides the sparkling new Olympic Park, the area is home to cutting-edge art galleries, affordable restaurants that push the envelope, unique shops, organic food markets, ethnic restaurants, and a rich cultural scene.
East London is also quickly becoming London’s version of Silicon Alley, home to internet startups, bloggers, and more. Old Street Roundabout, a roundabout located on the border of Hackney in East London, has even been nicknamed “Silicon Roundabout” since it’s home to so many startups. These tech-savvy folks often conduct business in the cafes and coffeeshops around the area.
Keep an eye out for the incredible street art in the area: the walls of most buildings are adorned with priceless graffiti and murals, including some by famously elusive street artist Banksy.
In honour of London hosting the 2012 Olympics, here are some photos of London’s hip East End.
Once a gritty, downtrodden neighbourhood, Shoreditch has become one of the hottest neighborhoods in London.
There's tons of great and irreverent street art, much of which was inspired by street artist Banksy.
Few Banksy originals still exist in Shoreditch—they're too valuable to be exposed on the street—but a few of his works survive.
Founded in 1901, the Whitechapel Gallery was one of the first publicly funded galleries in London. It continues to showcase works by contemporary artists and the immigrant community.
The White Cube Hoxton Square is another contemporary art gallery with a rotating roster of thought-provoking shows.
East London is filled with charming cafes and shops. When the weather is nice, everyone takes to the outdoors.
Broadway Market is the epicentre of hipster London. At this food market, expect to find organic produce, unpasteurized dairy products, fair-trade coffee products, and more.
On Sunday afternoons, Brick Lane Market fills up with stylish people searching for one-of-a-kind finds.
At Old Spitalfields Market, vendors sell everything from vintage clothing to handmade wares and gifts. The covered market is open every day, but Sunday is the best day to go.
You can get some incredible food and baked goods at Spitalfields Market, where there are over a dozen restaurants and food vendors.
Northeast London is one of the most diverse areas of the city—and that means great ethnic food. Kingsland Road, often lovingly called Pho Mile, has a monopoly on the city's Vietnamese restaurants.
Trendy new boutique hotels, like Shoreditch House, have popped up in the area in the past several years.
Albion Caff, in Shoreditch, is a favourite of bloggers and techies, since it offers free Wi-Fi in addition to its menu of typical British food and coffee drinks. More and more cafes are catering to the growing tech community.
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