The City (2)

My picture of the City now completely transformed by skyscrapers such that its distant profile bears not the faintest relationship to how it previously looked prompts the question how and why this has happened. After all, there was a moment not so long ago when the idea was that Canary Wharf should be the new Manhattan in order to allow the City itself to retain its character and integrity as a low-rise city, comparable to Paris, but without the boulevards, clustered round St. Paul’s. I know that Ken Livingstone was very keen while Mayor on liberating planning controls. But in the end responsibility for what has happened, good or bad depending on one’s point of view, must lie with the city planning authorities which is why I assume Peter Rees bears the greatest responsibility as City Planning Officer who, according to his biography, ‘led the planning and regeneration of this world business and financial centre from 1985 to 2014’.

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6 thoughts on “The City (2)

  1. Having lived in Madrid for a few years, I was taken aback when my new commute on my return to London had me arriving at Liverpool St Station daily. I did think ‘this is just like Manhattan’. Some of the churches on Bishopsgate look comically tiny now, dwarfed by glass box offices

  2. kruppers says:

    I have worked in the City for nearly 30 years now and it has changed a lot. I spent a period of time in Canary Wharf (Stepford Husbands I called it) and could never get on with it. Every action, even getting a coffee, felt like a high-powered outing. The City has always felt more authentic. I wonder now, post lockdowns, what will become of the new glass spires. The firms have realised that their employees ARE responsible people and can be trusted to get on with stuff even if the boss cannot see them. What will we do with these buildings if they are not offices.

    • Yes, this seems to me to be key to working life post-COVID. People will not particularly want or necessarily be willing to go back into the surveillance culture of sitting all day behind a screen in a huge anonymous office when they could just as well be doing the same thing more happily and more productively at home. Charles

  3. Jean Walker says:

    If you’re looking for some light but well written fiction may I recommend the Andrew Taylor Fire of London series…three books with the background of the Great Fire and the rebuilding of St Paul’s with what I would think is well researched detail about Wren and his associates.

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