Image Credit: http: visionofbritain.org.uk
Home to Hackney Empire, this theatre was built in 1901, throughout the years it has been a burlesque house, a bingo hall and a theatre; designed by Frank Matcham it has recently undergone a £17 million refurbishment. The Mermaid Tavern was once in Hackney Central, now a fabric shop called ‘Mermaid Fabric’, this tavern had gardens, a bowling green and regular freak shows. In the 1600’s and 1700’s Hackney had a bourgeois crowd, with the elite and middle class living here. Other historic buildings include St Augustine’s Tower, in the Narroway on Mare Street; it is the only surviving medieval tower in Hackney. At Hackney Museum you can get a feel for Hackney’s past with an exhibition documenting its changing times over the years.
History of Hackney
Originally Hackney was a rural area; the name derives from ‘Haca’s Eye’, which translates to ‘raised ground in Marshland’; Hackney Marshes is symbolic of Hackney’s routes. With the arrival of the Iron Bridge and the railway line the popularity of Hackney increased. Previous to this Hackney was thought to be a haunt of Henry VIII and his acquaintances that lived in houses and palaces nearby. Alongside the railway came increased industry and jobs. During the Second World War a lot of property, namely Victorian and Georgian homes, were destroyed, therefore the majority of property in Hackney is generally post World War II.
Modern Day Hackney
Today Hackney is an amalgamation of social and cultural pockets of societies; an area where wealth and poverty combine, Hackney has undergone substantial changes in its demographic since the 1980’s. The riots of 2011 did not help its public image but then it is also its diversity that is celebrated in the area. Today residents tend to be in the creative industries, working in the arts, media and many are highflying professionals commuting to the city and Canary Wharf.