Saturday, October 24, 2009

East London Tour

I wasn’t really thinking about the fact that I have already done a London Walk in East London, when I picked the East London walk as my day out a few Sundays ago. I really need to do a London Walk in a different part of the city. Since the Olympic development is happening there though, I was kind of hoping to get a feel for what’s going on there, but the development was not near where the tour was. The walk was still worth it. What did I learn? Well, I learned that a lot of East London was bombed during WWII because the major industry sat outside central London. I learned about the different ethnic groups that have moved through the area. East London is once again in transition. Ten years ago it wasn’t cool to live in East London but with the Olympics coming and gentrification, people like Keira Knightly now call it home.

The tour guide mentioned that we needed when we stopped to group closely together so the residents passing could get weren’t bothered. He said that some residents can be pretty annoyed by the tour. There are lots of Jack the Ripper tours in East London and he said that his tour gets mistaken for one of them. The residents don’t like the Jack the Ripper tours. See back to my post on the Ripper tour if you want to know more about those tours.

Here's a picture of a schoolhouse built in East London that is no longer in use.  To give the students a playground in the crowded city, they put it on the top.

One of our stops was in front of a glass building called The Idea Store. What is The Idea Store? It is the re-branding of the Whitechapel Library. The Whitechapel Library used to be called the university of the ghetto. Our tour guide mentioned that while the library used to have a large collection of Yiddish materials, Bengali materials have now surpassed that. As I was standing next to the building listening, there was a little girl that looked about four years old, with henna flowers painted on her hands was smiling and waving at me through the glass. As always, it comes back to the library!

Before the NHS and free healthcare for all there was the Royal London Hospital, which never charged for care. This is where John Merrick (aka The Elephant Man) lived out his days. There are beautiful new shiny blue buildings in the works right now which will be the new Royal London Hospital. Our tour guide mentioned that when the development was finished, it would be the largest hospital in Europe.

The tour ended on Brick Lane, so I picked up some bagels, the cheapest meal in London, for A’s breakfast, and headed home.

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