One of London’s most ambitious projects: a new business district in the South East of London
. Canary Wharf
is in an area traditionally known as “Docklands
”. It’s just the other side of the Thames
from the Millennium dome
Canary Wharf is a place of shiny silver skyscrapers and looks slightly out-of place amongst the medieval streets and Victorian warehouses of the Isle of Dogs. Prince Charles once described Canary Wharf as a ‘Hideous Carbuncle” and a “Blot on the Landscape”. Actually only one of the towers can be seen from a great distance (No.1 Canada Square is 50 stories high). The Canary Wharf towers are impressive by London standards but would hardly worth mentioning when compared to the skyscrapers of Manhattan or Toronto.
Hundreds of years ago Canary Wharf was a thriving harbour community, however by the late 20th century the shipping trade had begun to decline. The Isle of Dogs and the whole Docklands area became very poor.
In the 80’s (at the height of the boom) the government began a project to breathe new life into the whole Docklands area – at the heart of this new wave of development was the Docklands Light Railway and the Canary Wharf office development.
As the boom gave way to recession in the Early 90’s, Canary Wharf became a joke. Of the five original tower blocks built, less than half of the space they contained could be leased. In those days, Canary Wharf was every bit as bleak as the grey warehouses and dockyards had it replaced.
Now that the British economy is booming again, expanding companies eager to secure some growing space are flocking to the Wharf’s abundant office space. It’s a home of many of the biggest Finance, Management Consultancy and media companies. A serious place for serious business people!
Ironically, although Canary Wharf has been designed to be a business complex of the future, it’s actually a much less pleasant place to ‘do business’ than some of the more traditional business districts of London. Bank (in Central London) for example has been a place of commerce for nearly 1000 years!
The wharf is still growing. Recently it’s been connected up to the Jubilee Line, improving access to Central and North West London. There are at least four more tower blocks under construction, and plans for many more. With this development will hopefully come a richer and more diverse community and secondary industries – the sort of thing that most Londoners expect, however this will take time. Until then Canary Wharf is not a particularly good place to work.