A fragment of New York in London

I decided to go and explore Canary Wharf yesterday. It’s only one stop along the Jubilee Line, but I rarely venture there: I suppose I find it too corporate and imposing. What I found, though, stunned me: everything, from the expensive watches in the shop windows to the buildings their selves, seemed to glitter. It did not feel like anywhere else in London, but like a fragment of New York had been transported across the Atlantic and plonked down in the docklands. I must admit I was awe-struck by the architecture, and how the old docks now had modern skyscrapers sprouting between them. The whole place felt like a labyrinth of ultra-modern, obscenely expensive glitz, with paths winding through well-kept pleasure gardens and between skyscraper-lined docks. Even the Tube station doubled as a large shopping mall. You could tell there were ridiculous amounts of money around.

Yet I couldn’t help being reminded of what I was talking about here. I don’t think you’ll find anywhere like Canary Wharf anywhere else in the country. Indeed all over the city colossal sums are being pumped into urban development: I only need to trundle over to nearby Kidbrooke to see how an area, neglected until fairly recently, is being developed and gentrified beyond recognition. Is it the same case across the country? How come such huge amounts are being invested in london while everywhere else gets left behind? Why should London get all the swanky new buildings? It’s an imbalance which worries me, especially given that I suspect it’s reflected in levels of accessibility, with so much more public transport, infrastructure etc being wheelchair accessible than elsewhere. Almost everywhere I went yesterday, there was either a ramp or a lift.

That aside, I think I’ll go back to Canary Wharf soon: I was quite taken by it’s sheer, brazen opulence, and I feel there’s much more to explore. Mind you, I must admit that I was slightly disappointed that, despite the name, I didn’t find any tropical birds or Klingons.

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