This essay looks closely at Brick Lane, Tower Hamlets, and the area immediately surrounding, taken into consideration its past history, both distant and more recently, its present activities, and its future as a site of ethic tourism, as well as the effects this has on the local community and the part they play and have played in its regeneration. This is set alongside the fact that many of the inhabitants are still living as a pre-21th century overcrowded village community on the edge of the ultra modern city.
Shoreditch is described as ‘an area of hope and endless resilience’, (Unseen Tours, 2011). Yet it might be truer to say hope of a better future – perhaps somewhere else.
Another description appears in the form of a sundial high on the wall of the Jamme Masjid Mosque (undated) in London’s Brick Lane. Clearly to be seen on its surface is the Latin tag ‘Umbra Sumus’ i.e. ‘We are shadows.’ Placed there long before the building became Islamic the slogan is said to refer to the shortness of human life, but it is also a reflection, if not deliberately designed as such, of the changing nature of the area. This change has continued at various speeds for centuries and is still in progress, in particular in recent years shown by an influx of businesses which attract incomers and wealth to the area in what is known as ‘ethnic tourism’ or ‘cultural tourism’.