Explore London then & now with our new Patchwork London tool.
Since starting life as Londinium way back during the Roman Empire, the UK's capital city has grown into an even bigger bustling hub of activity, surrounded by 32 distinctive boroughs which form the vast network of Greater London. Each of these boroughs has a unique history which ties back to its roots, whether they're residential, industrial or commercial.
There's a constant ebb and flow within the county owing to the natural decline of certain areas and the various projects undertaken to regenerate them, with a few examples below to show just how effective this rejuvenation can be. Inspired by our newest campaign, Patchwork London, which explores the history of the capital and the exciting new developments happening across the city.
Merging the smaller boroughs of Stoke Newington and Shoreditch with Hackney back in 1965 created the vibrant cultural hub that's been steadily rising in popularity. Following the Second World War, an influx of immigration led to more redevelopment in the area to create more housing opportunities with a further rise in gentrification potentially due to the abundance of green spaces.
2012 saw London play host to the Summer Olympics and Paralympics, utilising venues across several different boroughs, which also led to the creation of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park which sat within Hackney and four other neighbouring East London boroughs. Since the games, the various stadiums and structures have been repurposed for use by local communities as per their intended design, as well as creating one of the largest contemporary urban parks.
With humble origins as a small market town, Croydon now has a credible reputation as a popular leisure and commercial destination within London. During the 19th century, a spa and pleasure garden designed by Decimus Burton were added to the area's many attractions as well as offering travel links to the fashionable resort of Brighton.
Ongoing regeneration projects in the area aim to return Croydon to its glory days as it verges on being recognised as London's third city following The City and Westminster. Saffron Square is one of these projects, and was one of the first buildings of scale to be developed in the area with over 400 apartments in a striking 43 storey tower, signalling the start of the transformation of the town. Many other larger developments and projects have followed, including the forthcoming development of the Whitgift shopping centre into a new Westfield, a brand-new retail and leisure complex that is sure to boost the local economy and create new jobs and activities in the area.
These two North London boroughs within Inner London have benefited from their association and proximity to King's Cross and St. Pancras stations as they've developed into the primary transport links in and out of the capital. The completion of the Regent's Canal in 1820 created a reliable link between King's Cross station and the industrial powerhouses in the north of England, with its name being derived from the statue of King George IV that once stood nearby - the statue was demolished but the name lived on.
World War II saw the area fall on difficult times, shifting from a key distribution centre to a mostly abandoned, derelict district. Although a number of regeneration plans were put into action in the later years of the 20th century, it wasn't until 2001 when major work was undertaken to bring in the Channel Tunnel Rail Link as well as vast improvements to St Pancras station. Since then, King's Cross has seen a massive influx in investments towards transport infrastructure as well as attracting large improvements for the surrounding buildings, contributing to its overall rejuvenation.
Take a look at the full Patchwork London campaign to see how other districts have changed over the years, advancing from their historical origins into new thriving communities and outstanding examples of architecture.