EAST END THEN & NOW

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Start – Liver­pool Street Sta­tion

End – Old Street Sta­tion

Length – 1.8 miles; 1½ hours This route leads through the heart of his­toric, mul­ti­cul­tural Spi­tal­fields and on to hip­per-than-thou Shored­itch. You’ll find it at its liveli­est on Sun­days, when the var­i­ous mar­kets are e ervesc­ing, but dur­ing the rest of the week there are still plenty of di­vert­ing shops and bars to break your stride.

Leav­ing Liver­pool Street tube sta­tion, cross busy Bish­ops­gate, turn le‚ and then right when you come to Mid­dle­sex St.

This used to be known as Pet­ti­coat Lane, in honor of the lacy women’s un­der­gar­ments that were sold here, but that proved too saucy for the au­thor­i­ties, and the name was changed in 1830 – to Mid­dle­sex! The East End lo­cals weren’t nearly so prud­ish and the rag­tag Sun­day mar­ket that’s been here for more than 400 years is still known by its for­mer name.

Veer le‚ into Wide­gate Street and into atmospheric Ar­tillery

Pas­sage, lined with his­toric shopfronts and drink­ing dens. From here, a le‚ and then a right brings you to Gun Street and, at its end, Old Spi­tal­fields Mar­ket. En­ter the mar­ket and turn right into the cov­ered lane lined with fancy gi‚ shops and eater­ies – a far cry from the fruit-and­veg­etable stands the mar­ket was fa­mous for un­til 1991, when “New Spi­tal­fields” opened in Ley­ton. Con­tinue on through the mar­ket proper, then step out onto Com­mer­cial Street. Just over the road is the Ten

Bells pub – fa­mous as one of Jack the Rip­per’s pos­si­ble pick-up joints – and the hulk­ing pres­ence of Christ Church.

Run­ning between the two, Fournier Street is one of the area’s most in­tact Ge­or­gian streetscapes. As you wan­der along, note the odd­ball num­ber­ing (11½ Fournier St.) and keep an eye out for fa­mous arty res­i­dents Tracey Emin and art duo Gil­bert & Ge­orge. The last build­ing on the le‚ is

Brick Lane Great Mosque. Turn le‚ onto

buzzing Brick Lane.

To­day, this nar­row but fa­mous thor­ough­fare is the cen­ter­piece of a thriv­ing Ben­gali com­mu­nity in an area nick­named Banglatown. Ex­pect to be ca­joled by so­lic­i­tors as you pass the many curry houses. Mostly, the stan­dard is pretty av­er­age, de­spite claims to the con­trary. Stop at the cor­ner of Han­bury

Street to ad­mire the

graŸti and then con­tinue on to Old Tru­man

Brewery. North of here Brick Lane is a very di er­ent place, stu ed with eclec­tic cloth­ing shops, cafés, bars and old-time Jewish bagel bak­eries. At the traŸc lights, cross Beth­nal Green Road, turn le‚ and then veer right onto Red­church Street, where there are in­ter­est­ing in­de­pen­dent shops. As you turn right into Club Row, keep an eye out for an elab­o­rate black-and-red piece of street sculp­ture called

Por­tal, ded­i­cated to street artist Ci­tyzenkane’s late son. Leafy Club Row ter­mi­nates in Arnold

Circus, a cir­cu­lar in­ter­sec­tion topped with a few trees and a band­stand on a mound. Un­til 1891, this was the heart of Lon­don’s worst slum, the Old Ni­chol. Nearly 6,000 peo­ple lost their homes when the slum was cleared, and most had to rent sim­i­larly im­pov­er­ished rooms far­ther east. The rub­ble

from the 730 de­mol­ished houses lies un­der the band­stand.

Take the third road on the le‚ (Calvert Av­enue) and walk past St.

Leonard’s Church, built in the Pal­la­dian style around 1740, to

Shored­itch High Street. Turn le‚ and cross over to Riv­ing­ton Street. Just past the rail­way bridge, look out for a wrought-iron gate on the right lead­ing to

Cargo. In­side the gate, un­der Per­spex, is a piece by fa­mous graŸti artist Banksy fea­tur­ing a se­cu­rity guard hold­ing a poo­dle on a leash. Many street artists have le‚ their mark in Shored­itch and you’ll spot plenty as you con­tinue. At the end of Riv­ing­ton Street, turn right onto Great East­ern Street and then veer le‚ onto traŸc-clogged Old Street. Be­lieved to have had its ori­gins as a Ro­man road, it re­mains a ma­jor route. Soon the dis­tinc­tive arcs straddling the Old Street tube sta­tion will come into view.

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