Tower Hamlets is one of the most diverse London boroughs. On one hand, it is home to many high-rise buildings, modern construction developments and one of the city’s financial districts. On the other, is has many hip and artsy shops and galleries. There is hardly any other borough in London that is made up of so many opposing sights and atmospheres. Today, Tower Hamlets is populated by over 295,000 people which is quite impressive given that is has a territory of just a little over 7.6 square miles. A great part of the borough’s skylines is occupied by glossy glass skyscrapers. This is why probably why it is so hard to imagine that it was among London’s most dangerous and terrible slums prior the mid-19th century. The borough was also the place know for the famous Whitechapel murders and Jack the Ripper. Luckily, Tower Hamlets has shaken off its bad image of a violent place long ago and it has now become one of London’s most modern and rapidly developing boroughs.
Modern vs old
Tower Hamlet’s dual character is probably most easy to spot in Isle of Dogs E14. Namely this district is home of Canary Wharf which is one of the two main financial districts in London. It is the place in which many of the world’s biggest and most powerful corporations have chosen to move their headquarters. As a result, towers and modern buildings are a common sight in this part of the borough. In fact, just a few years ago, it was also known as the district with the highest skyscraper in the United Kingdom. The building in question is One Canada Square and, with a height of 244 metres and 50 storeys, it easy ranks among London’s most grandiose constructions. Even though the 310-metre-tall The Shards stole the title of UK’s tallest high-rise, One Canada Square continues to be one of the borough’s trademarks.
Isle of Dogs is filled with office buildings. Most of them are, of course, set in Canary Wharf which alone boasts 16 million square feet of office space. If you take a walk on the streets in the area, chances are that you will mainly see people dressed in suits pacing quickly through life. That is because there are about 105,000 people who work in London’s second financial district alone.
However, if you take South Kew footbridge, you must prepare yourself for a big surprise. This tiny bridge is practically the only thing that separates Isle of Dogs’ modern and old parts. Just a few steps from the concrete towers is the more village-like side of the district. This part of Isle of Dogs resembles a countryside hamlet and it is much quieter than most other areas in the borough.
Leamouth E14 is a nearby district which does not really combine the modern with the new, but it is actually on the verge of the two. Over the past few years, the area witnessed a major transformation which is still unravelling. Soon it may even remind of Canary Wharf since the there are plans for the construction of a cluster of skyscrapers the tallest of which will have a height of 85 metres.
Charming maritime heritage
Limehouse E14 is another district in Tower Hamlets that is worth exploring. Well, it does lack the large green open spaces seen in most other parts of the English capital. There are even not many Georgian and Victorian homes in the district which is quite unusual for a London area. That is because Limehouse has a character of its own. It is situated on the banks of the Thames and it was an important port during the Middle Ages. It has preserved many of its old buildings and constructions which contribute to the district’s rough yet charming appearance. One of the local attractions is a pub called The Grapes which was first established back in the 16th century. The building is listed and it is mentioned in the novels of iconic writers like Oscar Wilde, Charles Dickens, Peter Ackroyd and Arthur Conan Doyle.
There are plenty of things that one can do in Tower Hamlets. There are many good restaurants, bars, pubs, cafes and shops in the borough and long list of attractions among which are:
- Tower of London
- Victoria Park
- Tower Bridge
- Brick Lane