Cagblog: East is West


Popped down to King’s Cross this morning to take some photos of the new concourse that opened to passengers for the very first time. It looks great with such a welcome feeling of light and space. Photo just there: see if you agree?

As a Londoner born and bred – despite my very Italian name – this City never ceases to amaze me with its constant growth. The whole area around King’s Cross has undergone and is undergoing incredible changes and I feel very lucky living so near to the heart of that change.

When I was growing up and living in Finsbury, now Islington, about three-quarters of a mile to the south of King’s Cross, this was an area you really preferred not to go to. Very run-down, seedy pubs, prostitutes plying their trade around York Way and Goods Way.

You would go out of your way to avoid the place if you could.

To be fair though, it did have some lovely old buildings away from Euston Road, opposite the iconic gas-works that have now been removed, and I do believe that the people who lived there did share a sense of community. Some of the housing, Stanley Buildings especially, were featured in Mike Leigh’s 1988  film: High Hopes. As I recall, his film did its best to reflect that community feel and the fears of those who lived there about how development would change their lives.

With the development of King’s Cross & the new Olympics site in Stratford, it feels like there’s an inexorable move eastwards for the new heart of London. And the development of Crossrail will certainly aid that trend. Years ago, people used to talk about ‘going up West’ for a good night out. I’m sure the West End and its nightlife will still attract tourists and Londoners alike, but maybe the theatres and restaurants in the West will be more of a draw for the older generation and the younger generation will start to head East. They already do so around Shoreditch and Brick Lane which has a real buzz most nights of the week and especially at the weekends.

If that long term shift does occur, maybe it’s just our own City’s geographical reflection of moves in the balance of power in the global economy, as witnessed by the growing influence of India and China in the east.

Either way, it seems East may well be the new West.



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