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Stratford is confused more often than you’d think with the chocolate-box tourist trap of Stratford-upon-Avon, birthplace of Shakepeare and a mere couple of hundred miles to the west, east London’s Stratford is a different proposition altogether.

A few years ago you’d have happily lumped this district in with neighbours Bow and Hackney as the grimmest neighbourhoods out east – deprived of the artistic and nightlife influence which has so transformed Shoreditch and Dalston, and with none of the business-related benefits that sees areas around Canary Wharf brimming with new-found prosperity.

Then Stratford struck Olympic gold: when London was awarded the 2012 Games with Stratford as their base, property prices boomed literally overnight, businesses fought over square inches of the area to get their piece of the 2012 action and a bright new future dawned.

The pace of regeneration round here is fast and furious, gathering pace all the time: at the time of writing, the new Stratford International terminus is up but not quite yet open – this will be the Games’ transport hub, with high speed Channel Tunnel trains from Europe as well as the centre of the new Docklands Light Railway line serving east London and the major Olympic sites.

The vast Olympic Park – featuring the main Olympic stadium, a velodrome, hockey centre, swimming pools and the Olympic Village – is on its way, with its post-Games life planned as a huge urban park, a new sports science-focused University and exclusive real estate.

Another entire community will be built on Stratford City, currently a brownfield site, with 5,000 homes and a vast shopping centre to rival giants like White City’s Westfield and Kent’s Bluewater, as well as the district’s burgeoning cultural quarter including Theatre Roy al Stratford East (Theatre Square, 020 8534 0310, www.stratfordeast.com) and the multi-purpose arts centre and restaurant complex of Stratford Circus (Theatre Square, 0844 357 2625, www.stratford-circus.com).

It’s currently a place in flux, but promises to have the world’s eyes smiling on it within the next three years.

Stratford is served by the Jubilee and Central Underground lines, the DLR and many overground rail lines.

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Stratford: Tube (underground)

StationZoneLine(s)Distance
Stratford Station3Central - DLR (Stratford Branch) - Jubilee0.19 miles
Pudding Mill Lane Station2DLR (Stratford Branch)1.15 miles
West Ham Station3District - Hammersmith & City - Jubilee1.23 miles
Plaistow Station3District - Hammersmith & City1.72 miles
Leyton Station3Central1.94 miles

Stratford: Rail (overground)

StationDistance
Stratford London Station0.19 miles
Maryland Station0.69 miles
Hackney Wick Station1.68 miles
Forest Gate Station1.96 miles
Wanstead Park Station2.22 miles
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