National Geographic : 2012 Aug
• a Maginot Line of sorts, demographics change: Curry Restaurant Brick Lane turns into Bou- tique Brick Lane, with vintage clothing stores, music clubs, and bars lled with young men with sandpaper beards and young women in leggings and abbreviated tops. e Brickhouse bar and supper club that week promised the burlesque chanteuse Lady Beau Peep, along with Audacity Chutzpah, Bouncy Hunter, and Vicious Delicious. An old Bengali man struggled to make his way against a tide of young people. " is used to be his neighborhood," Sotez said of trendy Brick Lane, beyond Woodseer Street. e street was lled with the careless exuberance of a di er- ent generation, with money to spend. Did they have any sense of the deprivation that lay just around the corner? I asked Rowshanara. " ey don't have a clue," she said. "I'd come here with my friends from uni," said Sotez. "It's vibrant. It's cool. We'd have a look around. From here you can see the lights of Canary Wharf, but they turned out to be an illusion." He paused and his face seemed to harden. "My mates all wanted to be investment bankers. None of them are." gleaming glass towers in Canary Wharf, Jerome Frost, head of design for the Olympic Delivery Authority, leaned forward on an impeccably white-topped table of the sort that telegraphs modern design and explained the driving force behind the London Olympics. " e games present a unique oppor- tunity for London," he explained. "We would reinvent the event. Make it more sustainable. e bid we made to the Olympic Committee was positioned on what we would leave behind." e games were dubbed the "legacy Olympics." In developing the site, the ODA cleaned up a square mile of contaminated land, buried power lines underground, and created 200 acres of new parkland. No environmentally correct de- tail was too small: 2,000 newts were carefully re- located away from the construction to a nearby nature reserve. A er the Olympics the buildings would nd new life as community sport centers, and the ath- letes' village would become private housing---half, it was said, earmarked for low-income buyers. e regeneration bounty would spill over to the surrounding area. West eld Stratford City, one of Europe's largest shopping centers, had recently opened in Stratford, gateway to the Olympics, with 1.9 million square feet of brand-name shops. Impressive, though the trumpeted word "legacy" provoked skepticism in some precincts. " 'Legacy' is one of those words like 'cool' and 'brand,' " said Stephen Bayley, a London design critic. "You can't create a legacy. Let us not imag- ine that great buildings can undo a ghetto." "Will they get it right this time?" I pressed Jerome Frost. On the plus side, he said, a chunk of East End had been cleaned up in record time and under budget, an improbable accomplish- ment if le to the private sector. But would those who live there really bene t? Or would it end up as another Canary Wharf, a walled-o Vatican, one urban studies scholar called it, that merely underlined the economic divide? "If this doesn't work," Frost said with a sigh, "nothing will." needs updating? e question was put to Fred Cooke's cousin Bob, who still runs his pie and mash shop at Broadway Market, Hackney. Bob Cooke set a bowl with a piece of eel oating in a sea of green sauce in front of me and sat down. It was tricky spooning the slippery segment out and trying to nibble around the tiny white cylinder of ver- tebrae in the middle. "One of my pals said: 'Why don't you sell piz- zas? Kids love pizzas.' "I said: 'You look a er your laundry. I'll look a er my pie shop.' " Cooke stood up and wiped his hands on his blue-striped apron. "Yes, we have customers, but they're older and getting fewer. Yuppies are not our customers," he said, as a tall young man with a ponytail peered in the doorway, then walked away. "I sell 3,000 pies a week," he said. "We've been here more than a hundred years. We'll be here another hundred."