New Olympic Stadium Rising above "the Wick"
Seeming to be stuck between a rock and a hard place and making the most of the situation with a stiff upper lip and more than a bit of artist flair, a little slice of east London known as Hackney Wick has moved from what was once considered as the outer reaches of this massive city to centre stage as one of the world's most celebrated global events sets up camp right next door for what promises to be one of London's biggest summers ever.
In this particular case the “rock” is none other than the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games with the “hard place” being a well established artist community that's called this area of town home for years. The Hackney Wick community is next to much of the Olympic Park, which with its massive new stadium and other new buildings appears to hover over the tiny and more traditionally English looking area like something out of Close Encounters of the Third Kind or Independence Day.
The good news for Hackney Wick is that with the 2012 Olympic Games comes the promise of better public transportation, potential jobs and money making opportunities for residents and local businesses, improved sports and leisure facilities and maybe even a boost for culture and the arts. Hackney Wick is receiving fresh funds via development grants due to its proximity to the Games and is to play host to many involved in the historic athletic event. Offering such a unique vantage point, media and broadcast centres for journalists reporting on the Games will be located within Hackney Wick. Approximately 20,000 journalists are expected to report to a global audience of billions of viewers from here.
However such an upgrade and recent attention bring with them concerns that developments may drive up the cost of living and of real estate, thus, pricing out the local artist community. Hackney Wick is the proud home of the world's highest concentration of artists in the entire world. Ties to East London's strong manufacturing and shipping past have left the area with lots of affordable industrial buildings for artists to use as studios. With the influx of artists have come new galleries, cafes and bars along with a now annual “Hackney Wicked” summer arts and music festival.
Whatever legacy the 2012 Games leave behind, now, up to and during the Olympics are fascinating times to visit “the Wick.” Accessible via public transport, boat or from a leisurely stroll along one of its canal side paths, Hackney Wick is a great place to explore the next time you book a flight to London for its art, bastion of new eating and drinking establishments and for its amazing up close and personal views of London's Olympic Park.
IMG Cred: Chris Osburn