London: Rebirth of docks on the Thames gives capital a shiny, new look
Stars and Stripes October 15, 2009
The Thames is the second longest river in the United Kingdom, flowing from Gloucestershire in the west to the North Sea in the east.
On its way it runs through London, where on or near its banks are several of the capital’s famous sights: the Houses of Parliament with Big Ben, the London Eye, the Globe Theater and the Tower of London, to name a few.
On the south bank of the river, between the fabled London Bridge and just beyond the Tower Bridge, a whole area that was once the city’s docks has gone through profound change. It gives the old city a brand-new look.
Where ships were once loaded for destinations across the Seven Seas, there are now shops, offices, museums and apartments housed in exciting architecture.
Hay’s Gallery, where tea clippers were once unloaded, is now full of shops, cafes and restaurants, with a giant sculpture, "The Navigators," at its center.
Nearby is More London, a conglomeration of new buildings with soaring glass architecture. While primarily office buildings, the structures also house cafes, restaurants and a hotel. The Scoop, an outdoor sunken amphitheater features concerts and theater during the summer.
Next door is the unusually shaped London City Hall, which has been compared to an onion, a motorcycle helmet, or worse.
Butler’s Wharf was once one of the biggest warehouse complexes along the Thames. Now it is apartments with a ground floor lined with restaurants and bars.
The iron bridges above Shad Thames, the wharf’s pedestrian thoroughfare, were once used for moving goods from warehouse to warehouse.
Just beyond Tower Bridge is London’s Design Museum. In front of it stands Eduardo Paolozzi’s sculpture "Head of Invention." Another interesting sculpture nearby is Antony Donaldson’s "Waterfall," with its nude bathers.
The warehouses of New Concordia Wharf on St. Saviour’s Dock have been turned into apartments, or flats, as they say in England.
Note the loading cranes once used by warehouse workers still attached to the buildings.
Although it is on the north side of the river and not on its banks at all, London’s most stunning piece of new architecture, 30 St Mary Axe — sometimes called the Gherkin or the Bullet because of its shape — can be seen peeking between and above buildings along the river.