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West Ham is at the heart of ‘proper’ east London. Built by the prosperity of trade on the Thames and its fortunes closely following that of the river nearby.
The Isle of Dogs, jutting out into the river, was home to the famous West India Docks, which together with the East India and Royal Docks also in these parts, saw the wealth of Britain’s colonial expansion bring thousands of workers to east London.
Between the 1930s and the 80s this traditional shipping trade collapsed; and much like Rotherhithe on the river’s south bank, the working class areas around Bow, West and East Ham and Plaistow had some very hard times. Salvation came for this part of east London in the form of Canary Wharf (www.canarywharf.com, transforming the derelict West India Docks into one of the world’s leading financial centres, and the new ExCeL Centre (Docklands, www.excel-london.co.uk) continues Docklands’ regeneration into a citadel of business.
As the surrounding area changes face rapidly, West Ham itself, however, is far from gentrified: these are the streets where the uber-cockney Alf Garnett walked to watch his beloved West Ham United in action, and the areas around Romford Road and Green Street are still a heady, if distinctly rough and ready mix of old-school cockneyness – pie and mash restaurants, street markets – and a vast cultural melting pot, with the Borough of Newham being the most ethnically diverse in the country.
West Ham United are one of the country’s iconic football clubs, playing in their famous claret and blue at the Boleyn Ground; though everyone calls it Upton Park. With a reputation for attractive football – and in the past, as seen in the 2005 movie Green Street, for the darker side of football hooliganism – it’s an atmospheric place to visit.
You are also very close to Stratford, another formerly deprived neighbourhood being transformed at dizzying pace in the run-up to 2012, as London’s Olympic Park takes shape – see our Stratford entry for more. West Ham Underground Station (Zone 3) is served by the District, Hammersmith & City and Jubilee Lines, Upton Park by the District and Hammersmith & City, and Stratford International will be the major transport hub for east London as 2012 approaches.
|West Ham Station||3||District - Hammersmith & City - Jubilee||0.27 miles|
|Plaistow Station||3||District - Hammersmith & City||0.38 miles|
|Upton Park Station||3||District - Hammersmith & City||1.50 miles|
|Stratford Station||3||Central - DLR (Stratford Branch) - Jubilee||1.51 miles|
|Pudding Mill Lane Station||2||DLR (Stratford Branch)||1.79 miles|
|Maryland Station||1.50 miles|
|Stratford London Station||1.52 miles|
|Forest Gate Station||1.91 miles|
|Canning Town Station||2.14 miles|
|Wanstead Park Station||2.21 miles|