After the rush of the Olympics, East London received unparalleled attention worldwide, with Stratford becoming the centre of attention. This article will take your attention away from the tourist trap that Stratford has become, with its gargantuan shopping centre (Westfield) and the post event wasteland that is the Olympic Park and focus on one of East London’s most famous areas; Brick Lane. The heart and soul of bohemian London which has been home to many generations of immigrants from the Jews and Greek of WWII to Indians, Bengali’s and Pakistani’s in the 60’s and 70’s, all leaving their mark on this glorious micro-community of East London.
1. Brick Lane Beigel Shops
As you can see from the image, an institution in Brick Lane since 1855. The two shops have been competing for as long as any living person can remember and your allegiance to whichever shop may cause arguments, they both make fantastic fresh Beigels at ridiculously low prices, perfect for stumbling out of the pub; as they are both open 24/7.
2. Vintage Clothing Shops
East London has always been famous for its bohemian culture. Although it may now be criticized as ‘hipster’ these shops offer cheap, relatively stylish clothing in massive quantity, everything from cowboy boots to woolly jumpers; they are everywhere and always worth a nosy.
3. Dray Walk Dray walk contains the heart and soul of Brick Lane night life, The Big Chill and Club 1001, if you were to go for a drink with some of Brick Lane’s infamous residents, while it may cost you an arm and a leg, if you want to be social this is where its at.
4. Old Spitalfields Market One of London’s greatest markets, around since Victorian times, with everything form vintage to posh chocolate brownies, its famous for its relatively cheap prices and quality goods, the place to be for trendy accessories and coffee.
5. Brick Lane Curry Houses Curry may be what Brick Lane is most famous for. Known as one of the best places in the UK for curry, they dish out some of the tastiest meals you will ever eat. Just don’t be pulled in by their front men without haggling a free drink out of them.
6. Boxpark Known as the World’s first Pop-up Mall, its collection of shipping containers bound together, create a row of small, stylish, modern shops. The alternative to Westfield for someone who doesn’t mind a little less choice for a lot more culture.
7. Rough Trade An institution on Dray Walk, its collection of vinyl and CD’s are unparalleled in the UK. Opened in 2007, it fit the feel of Brick Lane perfectly and is where you will find the album of that cool new indie band that you can’t find anywhere else.
8. Street Art. Brick Lane is a Mecca for street artists with many walls being privately owned and re-painted monthly. It was the stomping grounds for many famous artists such as Sweet Toof, if your’re into street art, then you won’t be disappointed by what Brick Lane has to offer.
9. Spitalfields Church A beautiful example of a Commissioners Church, built in 1729, its one of the areas oldest and greatest buildings inside and out. If you are ever drunk and stumbling around the east end, the spire, visible over most of the area is your way-point home.
10. Atlab Ali Park. While on this rainy November day, the park is deserted, it was named after a tragic death, the park itself in the summer is heaving full of young professionals and Brick Lane natives enjoying an end of day Beer, always great for a quick social gathering.