Today I cheated on E1 and took a walk around the gem of E2, Bethnal Green. A couple weeks ago, the free Tower Hamlets newspaper published a walk of the month of the area, and I saved it for a day I felt like exploring.
I'd been to Bethnal Green before, for this or that, and definitely liked it, but I never really saw much off the high street. Turns out, it's quite a cool neighbourhood. It's urban at its core, but surprisingly bucolic for East London. Bethnal Green Road is a suture across E2, bringing together two realities of the East End; urban hipsters and hirsute hotties pour in from Shoreditch to the North, and the South Asian masses of Shadwell's Siamese twin, Whitechapel, come up from below. Trendily edgy cafés, diners and bars tactfully mix with kebab shops, pound savers and pubs (and a full-sized Tesco).
As you head North from the high street, the urban edge quickly gives way to lazy streets with stately stone terraced homes, trees and bushes more typical in W postcodes, and before you know it you are skirting along some of the East's premier destinations. Columbia Road Flower Market, Hackney City Farm, Broadway Market and (the heavily underused) Victoria Park hem in Bethnal Green from Hackney. The whole area is interspersed with parks, churches, plenty of housing stock that survived the Blitz and a relative dearth council estates. Shoreditch is a comfortable walk away, and there is a tube and an overland direct into Liverpool Street. What a lucky little corner of London.
Attached are some photos of my local ramble, full set at http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=222493&id=713081334&l=7d6a6358a9
Bethnal Green's Banksy
Hackney City Farm
Graffiti next to Haggerston Park
Where the übercool Broadway Market meets the Regent's Canal
An urban stretch of the canal
Where London taxis go to die
Random small art studio on a back alley; how very East indeed
Entrance to Victoria Park
The canal goes green
About the park (it was opened in 1850 by Queen Victoria as a means to improve the lives and health of London's East Enders)
The park, if you're into that sorta thing
Terraced homes of Bethnal Green
York Hall, opened in 1929 by the Duke & Dutchess of York. It now has spa treatments in addition to its original pools and gym
Bethnal Green Road
La Forchetta, a nod back to ClerkenwellShaun H. Coley