The transformation of East London: Canary Wharf.

article-0-19CEE1EA000005DC-452_964x640 article-0-19CEE1DD000005DC-646_964x763(now and then, Canary Wharf)

Canary Wharf was once the biggest port in the world, but today is a major business district, a giant trade centre, a hub of the global economy. The Canary Wharf that we know today began its construction in 1988, and after recovering from a financial crisis on its first years, it raised stronger than before. It is now one of the 20 largest concentration of employment in the country, resulting in more than 100,000 people working over the same area every day.


It has been said that the creation of Canary Wharf mainly brought positive aspects to the city; a cheaper area than ‘The City’ for businesses to move into, many job opportunities, the necessary investment to enhance the Jubilee Line and to bring to life the project of the DLR (Docklands Light Railway), plus cheaper residential areas which would make of East London a more popular, active, connected, and dynamic area.

But is this actually true?

From those 100,000 employees, Canary Wharf employs 44,500 bankers from the 16 biggest banks in the UK (FT research), and has been said to be the solution for corrupt bankers to solve their problems, such as american financial services Lehman Brothers. Thus it was referred by the political essayist Peter Gowan as ‘Wall Street’s Guantánamo’. In the words of journalist Owen Hatherly: ‘Canary Wharf has been for the last 20 years the most spectacular expression of London’s transformation into a city with levels of inequality that previous generations liked to think they’d fought a war to eliminate’.

After a bit of research it is easy to realise how contradictory opinions about this area are. Some believe the raise in job opportunities brought to the area a huge diversity, refurbished East London, and shed a new light. Others just see it as an inconvenience, a way of attracting more people to an already overcrowded city, where the provided services don’t match the the rhythm of this fast paced ‘Second City’, becoming an annoyance for the local commutes, and the local residential area.

Is Canary Wharf a success after all? Or will it become the city’s biggest myth?

Allen, K. (2015). Canary Wharf workforce quadruples in a decade – [online] Financial Times. Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2015]., (2015). Local news, sport, leisure, jobs, homes, cars in Epping Forest, Waltham Forest, Wanstead &. [online] Available at: [Accessed 1 Mar. 2015].

Hatherley, O. (2012). The myth that Canary Wharf did east London any good | Owen Hatherley. [online] the Guardian. Available at: [Accessed 27 Feb. 2015].

Post by: Marta Santillana

The transformation of East London: Canary Wharf.

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