in the City

I’ve been walking through the City on my way to work since 2002. Here are some photos from a work without progress.

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The bridge was still new.The horizontal line of the Tate Modern was a rare thing in London and is now extinct. Already you can see the cranes in the background. Here’s what happened later:

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At St Paul’s there was constant change and entertainment:

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New buildings had a kind of innocence. They reflected their surroundings, and the sky:

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This is New Change, just east of St Paul’s. The first picture shows a panel of glass being lifted into place. It was finished in time for the Christmas shopping season, and then it looked like this, instead of reflecting, the windows dominate the rush hour darkness.

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Here’s the Crossrail site at Moorgate:

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Everybody loves the power and drama of a big building site. But when it’s finished, why don’t they just take it all away! The performance is over! It was fun, but we’re bored now, and it’s much too big, and it’s useless. The shard still looks good from a distance though:

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And the silvery line on the left is the – what is it called? Usually referred to as the walkie talkie, a stupid name.  I went to take photos of it one day and saw a girl doing the same. I said, ‘do you like it?’ She said, ‘I think it’s beautiful.’ As a piece of sculpture maybe, if it didn’t crowd other buildings out, if it didn’t leer over the city. And look, there’s no thought of people, look where the workers are eating their lunch:

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I call it the Fuck Off building. Here it looms over London Bridge, where the buildings go up and up and pedestrians and crazy cyclists are squeezed in with the traffic under the railway bridge. At least there’s one electric bus.

Most of the big new building are known by their nicknames, because they’re quite coy, as if they’d like to be anonymous, which is ridiculous for things so in your face. And they rarely advertise their function, unlike the buildings at Canary Wharf, which boldly show their corporate logos, HSBC etc. In the City they’re more likely to be known simply by their address, as if they were just ordinary houses. The gherkin’s real name is 30 St Mary Axe, I believe. Here’s one in Bishopgate. The big windows invite you to peer in, but the businesses within remain hidden:

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Not a good photo. In the brown window to the left is the address, 99 Bishopgate. Then an empty atrium. Is that an atrium? And above, reflections again.

It’s something to do with growing older and with the constant change in the city that odd pieces of late Victorian architecture that you never used to notice become, well, precious:

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On Blackfriars Road, with a rainstorm approaching, after a long drought, in April 2012.  An hour later, here’s the rain:

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a good place to stop for now

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1 Response to in the City

  1. Peter C. says:

    Great pics Jonathan. The other building in the City which is worth noting is St Ethelburga’s Centre for Reconciliation and Peace, hidden in plain view on Bishopsgate. It was the church destroyed by the IRA’s city bomb in the 90’s.

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