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Luke: Mile End/ Whitechapel/ City of London/ Canary Wharf

January 19, 2011

Vibrant is an overused word, but for Mile End Road and Whitechapel Road it stirs all the right connotations. Mile End and Whitechapel are filled with all sorts of nationalitites, especially Bangladeshi and Pakistani. As you walk west from campus, the street is lined with myriad small shops, many advertising SIM cards and phone unlocking. There are all sorts of restaurants, ranging from curry houses to a place called Stepney Fried Chicken. Many of the restaurants have signs in front saying “halal,” which is roughly the Muslim equivalent of kosher. There is also the Whitechapel Market built into the sidewalk, which for a while widens to about 50 feet to accommodate all the tents for the vendors, very few of whom are Caucasian. This is where I hope to buy a lot of my fresh fruits and vegetables.

Once Whitechapel High Street ends, you are leaving the borough (region of London) of Tower Hamlets and entering the very ancient and well-known borough of City of London, which contains the major business district. The change is very apparent and very sudden. The proportion of minorities out and about plummets after walking just one city block out of Whitechapel (area within the borough of Tower Hamlets adjacent to Mile End, are you following this?) and into City of London. The buildings changed from small crowded shops lining the street to glamorous office buildings with receptionists sitting in 25 foot long ornate desks inside. A second business district that now rivals City of London is Canary Wharf in Tower Hamlets, which represents the emergence of the East End from its former shadow of poverty and undesirability.

My room in Pooley House (still getting organised)

Pooley House, including my flat, which house seven students

Old Jewish cemetery right in the middle of campus: it was there before campus was built around it. The East End was a hub of Jewish immigrants in the past and of Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants today.

Queen Mary Campus

Queen Mary Campus building

City of London skyline seen from Mile End Road

It's the Tube or the Underground, not the metro or subway

The brand new Heron Tower, set to open this spring: tallest building in City of London borough

Scene from City of London during a rainy rush hour

the old and the new in City of London

"The Gherkin," so dubbed for its resemblance to the fruit

At One Canada Square

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