There are few places in London that feel like Canary Wharf. Here – the streets have been rebuilt and repurposed to become a fully fledged mecca of business and retail and most days of the week those same streets are filled to near bursting point. It’s horrendous really… millions of suited men and women all rushing through doors and pushing through tube stations.
But once a week, at the weekend, the streets begin to empty out and we are left with a hollow city. The doors to skyscapers remain largely closed, a single gush of wind, not a rush of feet, disturbs the leafs around Jubilee Gardens and the bars, though open, are mostly quiet and pleasant. This is the best time to visit Canary Wharf. The streets slow to a halt, you can freely sit in the gardens and snap a photo or two without catching the face of a commuter as they run past about to miss the 6 o’clock train. Before starting on this adventure to slowly travel Europe and the world – I lived just across the river from Canary Wharf in the beautiful little Greenland Docks (and will undoubtedly return one day….) and would often jump the boat to have a drink or two on a peaceful evening.
For this post I’ve focused on the newer architecture in and around the main part of Canary Wharf – which I think is stunning and one of the few cities where one can feel, at times, tranquil. On exiting either the underground, the DLR or the Clipper Boat most people find themselves in Cabot Square, admiring the fountains and the views of the skyscrapers towering above.
From there I like to make my way past Canada Square – admiring London’s second largest skyscraper (Number 1 Canada Square) from the ground and taking in the intriguing often odd choice of sculpture (see wire trees below) that many of the buildings have adopted inside and out. And though many of these skyscrapers are rather small, when considering their International counterparts in such as Dubai and the USA, it can still be a dizzying experience to stand below one – looking up to the sky. From there – it’s always lovely to walk into the docks to take a stroll by the water.
The photograph below shows a metallic post that can be found outside of the Waitrose supermarket in Canary Wharf – it’s a fantastic thing. It, presumably, sends out a radio signal to passing trolleys, which forces the wheels of the trolleys to come to a sudden stop when folk try to take them outside of the designated area – thus preventing theft and drunken late night trolley rides.
One of my favourite things about the architecture in Canary Wharf is the tube station entrances that look positively futuristic – built of course by Foster & Partners and winner of many awards. Between two of said entrances is the wonderfully serene Jubilee Park – which has small water features, rock gardens and a few spaces to sit. It’s especially beautiful on a summers day when it’s usually full of tiny birds and, at the right time, not too many people.
Of course much of Canary Wharf is still under construction and will undoubtedly be that way for quite a time to come… though it does make for some interesting scenery…. if you like that kind of thing.
When either travelling to or from Canary Wharf there is simply no better way than by taking a boat. The easiest option for tourists is the Clipper – which will take you right into Westminster or to Greenwich – depending on where you’re headed. The route takes you under Tower Bridge and past Rotherhithe, London Bridge and the London Eye – so it’s scenic and enchanting, especially at night.