Canary Wharf is the name of the second financial district for London. It is situated about three miles to the east of the ‘City of London’ in the former London Docklands. The addition of Canary Wharf was to provide additional capacity for the ‘City’ – a top-ten world economy, if it were a country in its own right!
But Canary Wharf is more than just a modern office development.
The super-impressive skyscrapers and slightly windswept and traffic-free streets give it a surreal quality. Significant investment has been made to the environment. Mature trees, some costing £30,000 each, were planted, the street furniture is by top designers and there are over 65 modern sculptures by leading modern artists including; Henry Moore, Lyn Chadwick and Ron Arad. Computerised fountains, beautiful landscaped gardens (by Wirtz) and traditional dry stone walls add to the impact.
Along-with a full programme of cultural events throughout the year, five luxury shopping malls, cafes, bars and a Michelin starred restaurant it’s a new high end city in the making.
This is a long way from the former (post-Blitz) shipping port, handling goods from all over the world (including the Canary Islands).
The regeneration was spearheaded by the London Docklands Development Corporation (LDDC). It invited international investment into the 8.5 square mile site. Much of this was made by Olympia and York from Canada – hence the Canadian-inspired street names; such as Canada Square and Cabot Square. (Gianni Caboto ‘discovered’ the New Found Land in 1497). The centrepiece is One Canada Square. Designed by Cesar Pelli it was Britain’s tallest building (at 235 metres), until eclipsed by The Shard, also in London).
The magnificent and extensive Museum of London (Docklands), is situated nearby in the two remaining great warehouses of West India Dock. The seven others were destroyed in the raging fires of the Blitz in 1940 as the main import, sugar, ignited the warehouses. Once the brave firefighters had finally doused the flames, the sugar set into toffee and the desperately hungry children of the east end chiselled up shards of the precious sweetness.
Contributor: Sue Sturges
Sue is a British Blue Badge Guide with an extensive knowledge of London. Sue runs private tours of London and the Docklands.
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Main photo by Diliff