East London - Economy and Business

East London's economy has grown significantly over the last few years, with businesses flocking to this now-upmarket area of London, and many well-established and innovative businesses making East London their home.

The Historical Docklands

The Docklands has always been successful as a port and hub of manufacturing and trade. In the 17th century, Londoners began using the area as a dock. During the era of mercantilism it was a place where goods from all over the British Empire were received, ready to be sold to Londoners and to the rest of Europe.

Tea from India, tobacco from North America, sugar from Australia and the Caribbean and coffee and spices from Africa and the Middle East all passed through the Docklands.

During the Second World War, due to its significance to British infrastructure, it was heavily bombed by the Germans during the Blitz and had to be rebuilt extensively when the conflict ended.

Eventually the area declined as it was not able to deal with large container ships and became derelict and crime-ridden by the 1960s and 1970s. There were many social problems as well during this time.

Rebuilding and Rise to Prominence

Canary Wharf - as it is known commonly - is the part of East London that boasts 14 million square feet of office and retail space. It is also the site of many world or European headquarters of banks, firms and media organisations. Some of Europe's tallest buildings can be found there; notably the famous One Canada Square.

This rise to power began in the early 1980s when the UK government implemented a range of initiatives to create redevelopment in the area. The second golden age of the Docklands, which has significantly boosted the economy of the district, is due to its easy accessibility. With air transport links, buses, railways, the London Underground and ferries and boats on the Thames, new life has been breathed into the district and it has now become a hub of retail and commercial activity that attracts businesses not just from the United Kingdom, but from all over the world.

Government initiatives that helped boost the success of the district were a range of tax exemptions and capital allowances, which made it attractive to businesses who were able to launch their redevelopment of the area.

Many thousands of homes were built in the area during this time that would house the workers in the companies setting up shop there. Initially the housing was developed for middle-class and luxury tenants, following the boost to London's economy with the 2012 Olympics, social housing is now being built as well to accommodate other residents in the area.

The Docklands Light Railway is also now connected to the area which shuttles passengers in and out of the district by the thousands with its impressive 21st century driver-less train cars.

The boost to the district created hundreds of thousands of new jobs in the area and has completely transformed the social side of East London. Canary Wharf is considered a great example of success in this regard.

Legal, Media and the Banking Sector

East London is home to much of the UK's most prominent legal, banking and media services. Since 2003, the number of people living and working in the Canary Wharf district has risen from 27,000 to 100,000.

While many firms have relocated from the Central London area, which has run out of space for expansion, a still greater number of businesses are being established. The restaurants and entertainment facilities have also improved drastically in recent years and it is now counted as one of the best places to eat and go out in London.

Community groups, job-seekers and educational establishments are all flocking to this part of the city in order to take advantage of its prominence, while International companies such as Barclays, HSBC Holdings, Morgan Stanley, J P Morgan and Citigroup are already well-established in the area.