Dec 20th, 2018, 03:05 PM

A Snapshot of Brick Lane

By Sage Theiss Sakata
Image Credit: Sage Theiss Sakata
An ever changing landscape.

The bustling East End market attracts the consumption-hungry crowds. On a Saturday morning, Brick Lane is lined with tables of colorful clothes. Sellers are steaming fur coats, leather pants, and 1960's dresses. A DJ is playing outside of a vegan pop-up market where crowds of people are flooding in and out. The street is filled with the smell of cumin, coriander, turmeric and ginger. Grafitti is spread across the brick walls where six tourists are listening to an audio tour guide. This is Brick Lane as it stands today: a multi-cultural, trendy fashion and food market. 


Image Credit: Sage Theiss Sakata 

The busy market street runs south from Shoreditch towards the busy London underground Aldgate East station. Brick Lane is recognized for its Bangladesh community and south Asian cuisine, but also, vintage shopping, hair salons, and high-end designers boutiques. Once before, the now sensory overload was nothingness until the 16th century when it becomes a place for brick and tile making. In the 18th century, a market was established and later in the 19th century, Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe arrived succeeding in their trades of shoemakers and tailors. 


Bangladeshi sweet shop Alouddin Sweets. Image Credit: Sage Theiss Sakata  

The most recent transformation was the immigration of Bangladesh immigrants giving Brick Lane the current name Banglatown. In an effort to flee political upheavals, Bangladeshi came to security and employment and a new life for themselves in London. A formal chapel was turned into a synagogue, the London Jamme Masjid, perhaps to symbolize the changing demographics. As the Bengali community grew resulting in the opening of Bengali restaurants. 


Vintage market. Image Credit: Sage Theiss Sakata 

While graffiti is still spread across the streets, the landscape has changed and Bangladeshis are moving to other parts of East London. More recent years have brought anti-gentrification protests. Today, Brick Lane is a hub of art and fashion run by a youthful crowd. A hub filled with Art Deco furniture and unusual clothing, the landscape continues to change as new groups begin to come in.