London is a city where wealth and poverty can sit next to each other – Holland Park, Highbury, Kilburn, million-pound houses right next to housing estates. But the creep of money, what we call gentrification, seems to be a tide that won’t turn.
Inevitably areas lose character, as people who have lived in the locale for years are gently pushed out over time. The gentrification of Hackney has been one of the most startling, but at the same time, the people moving in have tried to build community.
Ten years ago, all people could tell you of Hackney was the ‘frontline’, a point at which even police feared to venture. Now, it’s THE place to go for a hand-roasted Ethiopian coffee and a chorizo cured in Walthamstow.
But credit the new inhabitants with something – the revitalization of a newspaper in the area, the Hackney Citizen, it’s campaigning agenda, pressure to improve local spaces and school; the middle class have brought their weapons of war.
But the food is a genuine phenomenon. Chefs who would otherwise have been lost in the big restaurants are opening in railway arches, are starting food trucks and pop-ups. You can go to Hackney on a food and drink adventure. Violet for example (HotJoint story here); almost bizarre, a gorgeous bakery in a strange building in a forgotten part of town by someone whose tutelage was in the famous Chez Panisse restaurant in Berkeley.
That’s Hackney. Now.