The Central Line is effectively now “The Shopping Line”, with Oxford Street at the centre, increasingly overshadowed by London’s two largest shopping malls. White City in the west, recently joined by Stratford in the east. The economic effect of large “out of town” centres has long been debated, with the malls perhaps rightly villified for causing the demise of high streets up and down the land. Their attractions may be obvious, particularly in the case of London’s two recent additions, but while these giant temples to consumerism may have big shiny architecture and all those designer labels, they are clearly lacking in the variety and personality that a high street can offer.
If you prefer a vibrant high street over a shopping mall, you can’t do much better than Broadway Market in Hackney. I happened to be in the area last saturday, and decided to check it out, having heard so much about it. It was buzzing! A thriving market, street entertainment, lovely shops and cafes on a historic street with a canal at one end, and a park at the other.
South of the river, East Dulwich’s Lordship Lane is also a winner, with wonderful delis, bars and restaurants, but with proper shops too, selling useful stuff!
And right on my doorstep, The Triangle at the centre of Crystal Palace is definitely worth exploring, particularly if vintage is your thing.