Most people outside of London cultivate a nostalgic image of the happy go lucky, cheerful cockney, strutting down the back streets of the East End, nattering away in rhyming slang on the way to a pub for a few cheeky pints after a long old day at the market.
Whether it ever was that way is up for debate but either way, the image of the East End is changing. It’s becoming more cosmopolitan, more urbane, the word “gentrified” is thrown about by politicians, online blogs and locals alike, and there may be some truth to it.
The café culture is moving in making the East End, more than ever before, a place to visit for food and socialising. Art Galleries and museums are springing up alongside alley ways thick with street art and a new clientele of academics and artists are starting to plug their wares alongside fruit and veg stalls, fish mongers and butchers.
Some are resistant to change, others are encouraging it but regardless the East End has managed to retain a sense of community. Sandwiched between the bustling metropolis of Central London along the Thames and the Essex Countryside the East End has endured. It was blown apart and put back together again during the Second World War and immigration brought new faces and new cultures to its streets.
In the East End you will find some of the oldest parts of modern London, some of which have remained unchanged for nearly 300 years. There are tightly packed, busy roads swollen with pubs and shops. Independent markets and superstore chains vie for customers while people from all walks of life go about their business.
Given the nature of London’s transport system, getting there is easy. Depending on the time you have in the big smoke you might consider taking in one of many East End tours or walks. It is a fascinating, exciting place which is practically splitting at the seams with culture and history. What better time to experience it, than now, on the verge of another of its historical changes.