This is an iconic London establishment with its rich history from ever changing immigrants, deep poverty to its latest incarnation as an artsy place with trendy coffee bars and art galleries, utilising the old brewery locations. However, Brick Lane manages to do this without loosing its old character, with the 24 hour Bagel places still going strong, seemingly unaffected by the change going on around them and the southern part of the road, nicknamed Balti-lane with plenty of curry houses, making Brick Lane the curry capital of the UK.
Its rich past is shown through the Mosque on Brick Lane and Fournier Street that started off as a French Huguenot chapel, changed to a Synagogue when the Jewish population increased in the area and its current reincarnation as a Mosque. Who knows what it will turn into next?
Having lived in the west or north-west part of London, Brick Lane feels very far east to me and it always feels like an outing when I travelled this far east. I like to hit the vintage stores looking for second hand books. There is one specific store about midway along the street, where its basement bookshop has become a setting in one of my novels. Its low ceilings and piles of books everywhere is the perfect setting for illicit meetings of an underground network.
The extra bit: Close behind Brick Lane comes Baker Street as one of my favourites streets, mainly because of its fictitious address, 221B Baker Street, the home of Sherlock Holmes. Yes, it is quite touristy especially along the part where the Sherlock Holmes museum is located, and yes, it is a thoroughfare for anyone coming from North London – Swiss Cottage, Golders Green, Finchely etc. But it is also a street that leads off to other more quite residential streets where you can wander around and explore a very different London.
Let me know in the comments if you have a favourite B street in London or in your own hometown/favourite city.
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