6 May 1992

Down among the Gentrifiers

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1992. A time of post-boom tristesse in East London. The uncompleted Canary Wharf went into receivership, and the property market had suddenly collapsed, causing tremors of anxiety at dinner tables where conversation had previously dwelt on the astronomical rise in house prices. It seemed like a good time to review the idea of ‘gentrification’. Published in the Guardian, 6 May 1992.



There was no wedge of lime jammed into its neck but the label’s vaguely Toltec sun, emitting old-fashioned rays from behind a cloud, left no doubt that this was a bottle of Sol, the fashionable Mexican beer. I came across this unexpected import from the land of the plumed serpent one recent Saturday morning: half-empty but still upright on the pavement of Hackney’s Dalston Lane. It was putting up a good stand against the drifting litter and the greasy strutting pigeons, but it still looked as implausible as Canary Wharf, that other tall beacon of the Renewal that suddenly went into reverse…

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