London has several neighborhoods. Districts that are fully in bloom (and expensive) such as Kensington, Notting Hill and Chelsea. But also neighborhoods that are ‘upcoming’, like Peckham that I wrote about earlier. In between you also have neighborhoods that were once ‘upcoming’ and are now labeled as the city’s trendiest district: ‘The place to be’. Such a place where you will find the coolest conceptstores, design boutiques, restaurants, galleries, (food) markets, barbershops and exclusive clubs. The perfect recipe for preparing a trendy neighborhood, you think.
An example of such a transformed neighborhood is Shoreditch, a former working class district that has been transformed into one of the trendiest areas of London by the arrival of artists and (creative) entrepreneurs in the 1980s and 1990s. Shoreditch is an inner city district in the historic East End of London located in modern East London. The neighboring districts as Hoxton and Haggerston are part of Shoreditch. Earlier Shoreditch was a suburb of City of London, now its part of Inner London.
Around 1996, Shoreditch has become a popular and fashionable part of London. Together with the neighboring Hoxton, the area has been subject to gentrification for the past twenty years. Due to the upgrading of the area, land and real estate prices rose considerably in recent years. Not everyone agreed with the gentrification. For example, a protest demonstration against gentrification in London was held in Brick Lane in September 2015.
Shoreditch was once an area with predominantly working class, but by artists and (creative) entrepreneurs who eventually came, this area transformed considerably. Former industrial buildings have now been converted into offices and residential towers. On Curtain Road and Old Street you will find many clubs and pubs and in the more smaller streets: art galleries, (organic) lunch bars, restaurants, concept stores, vintage shops, designer boutiques, and (indoor) food markets.
Did you know that ” Shoreditch ” is now also used as a term and is compared with the concept of contemporary ‘hipsterfication’ of regenerated urban areas. In other neighborhoods where such a transformation takes place, expressions are used as ‘Shoreditchification’ and ‘Very Shoreditch’.
Time to visit this lively neighboorhoud. We got off at Monument station, on the outskirts of Shoreditch, and are surrounded by high buildings and cranes. Architectural skyscrapers in the making, something that ties in with the current buildings in the adjacent City of London. But not much to see of the ‘raw’ Shoreditch we were looking for. We follow Gracechurch Street and Bishopsgate which will guide us in the right direction to Shoreditch High Street.
Once we get closer, the street scene changes, tall buildings make slowly place for low-rise buildings and on the left and right hand some murals, something you see a lot in Shoreditch. Many of these works have remained behind from the days when artists were given free rein to leave their work in the neighborhood on walls, doors and streets. One big open air exhibition. The most beautiful pieces have been preserved to this day.
It’s almost lunchtime and we decide to have a bite somewhere first. Not too complicated, just a quick snack. We both feel like pizza. We step inside at Pizza Pilgrims on Shoreditch High Street. The decor is trendy and looks conceptual, the smell (fortunately) very traditional. After we have finished our pizzas, which were delicious, we continued our way.
We decide to look up the cozy streets and start our walk at Redchurch Street. In this area with the adjacent streets you will find nice boutiques, designer shops with exclusive brands, concept stores, lunch cafes, galleries, vintage shops and (food) markets like Bricklane Market and Backyard Market.
We continue our way to Bethnal Green Road, a popular crowded place in this street is Boxpark. A shopping mall include restaurants and pubs built from sea containers.
Shoreditch looks attractive in a setting of a touch of ‘rawness’ and of course it is very cozy on the street. But somewhere it is also seems to be one big attraction. I thinks it’s a bit of an overkill of vintage, local, food, music and design in a decor of bricks and graffiti. Not very surprising that there are many tourists walking around.
However the environment is lively and everything looks very inviting. It’s all about the experience and consumption. Lara loved it in any case with all those colors and lights on the streets. Shoreditch is cool and there is a lot to do in the fields of art, fashion, design, music and food. Definitely worth to spend a day and to return once again.
We close our route at Brick Lane, a street in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Nowadays this street is the heart of the Bengali-Sylheti community of the city and is known by some as ‘Banglatown’. On Sunday, Brick Lane turns into a long street market where you can spend hours.
We had the intention to eat some Indian food in Banglatown in the evening, because this area is famous for its many curry houses. Unfortunately the pizza and some little snacks at one of the foodmarkets earlier that day made sure we were not hungry yet. But we will definitely visit Shoreditch once another time, so next time better.
If you plan to visit Shoreditch and you enjoy strolling around the streets full of stalls. Then plan your trip on a Sunday when different markets are organized on almost every corner of the street.
For the best markets in Shoreditch, follow the links below: