London’s East End – Shoreditch and Columbia Road
People are attracted to London for very different reasons. Personally, what draws me most are the contrasts and wide variety of areas within the same city.
Last week we walked through affluent Highgate, but this week we’re taking it more east to eclectic Shoreditch and Columbia Road Flower Market.
This part of the East End is well-known for its brilliant food offer, and is a hub for artists and designers alike. It draws people from all corners of the world, making its streets colourful and exciting.
This area of London went through a large amount of developments. From offering a theatre area in Victorian times, it changed to an industrial area where a lot of workingmen settled. Furthermore, many overseas immigrants found their home here too, and the creative industries caused a gentrification process in later years.
‘Hip’ companies, shops, bars and restaurants have opened over the years, and the term ‘hipsterfication’ was born. However, these developments do not please everyone. I will leave it up to you to judge that for yourself.
The Cereal Killer Café in Brick Lane was the location for the anti-gentrification protests in 2015
Our walk today starts at Old Street Underground Station. Exiting can be a real challenge here, as the station finds itself in the middle of a large roundabout. The roundabout is locally known as Silicon Roundabout, due to the many technology companies located here.
Try to find the exit to Hackney and you’re on your way!
For this route, you can now simply follow Old Street eastbound. However, it is actually much nicer to enter some of the smaller streets like Willow Street, Garden Walk, and Rivington Street.
Strolling down the side streets and alleys is the best way to find another aspect of what makes Shoreditch so famous: street art.
Murals from artists like Banksy, Stik and Invader can be found scattered around the area. To see them all and hear the stories behind the art, join a street art tour.
Another reason why Shoreditch is so popular among tourists and locals alike is its vibrant nightlife. From blues bars, to all-night-long clubs, and from pop-up restaurants to delicate cocktail bars, it can all be found here.
While walking through Rivington Street, I stumbled upon Cargo. This is a club I had only seen during night time before. Even this place is filled with street art.
Columbia Road & the Flower Market
Via Rivington Street and Hackney Road it is only a short walk now to Columbia Road. There is not much to see in this street at first, besides some beautiful terraced houses.
But further down the street is where it’s all happening. From a street that served as a passageway for sheep to be driven to the slaughterhouses of Smithfields, it developed into one of the most popular shopping areas of London.
Sixty independent shops, coffee shops, and art galleries are open 7-days a week and provide the perfect shopping opportunity. Especially if you are on the hunt for unique (vintage) clothing and homeware.
However, the street becomes even more busy on a Sunday. This is the day that the famous Columbia Road Flower Market opens its doors.
Flowers and plants are sold here by passionate tradesmen selling their goods. These are the guys you need to ask for advice on how to keep your plants and flowers alive. No more cactuses-only for you!
That’s all for this week folks. Next week we’ll continue this walk even further east where more surprises await!