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Canary Wharf from Cabot Square

Canary Wharf is a large office and shopping development in Eastmarker Londonmarker, located in the London Borough of Tower Hamletsmarker. Rivaling London's traditional financial centre, The Square Milemarker, Canary Wharf contains the UK's three tallest buildings: One Canada Squaremarker (commonly known as the Canary Wharf Tower); 8 Canada Squaremarker and the Citigroup Centremarker.


Canary Wharf is built on the site of the West India Docksmarker on the Isle of Dogsmarker. From 1802, the area was one of the busiest docks in the world. By the 1950s, the port industry began to decline, leading to the docks closing by 1980.

Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterraneanmarker and Canary Islandmarker fruit trade. At their request, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf.

The Canary Wharf of today began when Michael von Clemm, former chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), came up with the idea to convert Canary Wharf into back office. Further discussions with G Ware Travelstead led to proposals for a new business district. The project was sold to Olympia & York and construction began in 1988. The first buildings were completed in 1991 which included One Canada Squaremarker that became the UK's tallest building and a powerful symbol of the regeneration of Docklands. Upon opening, the London commercial property market had collapsed and Olympia and York Canary Wharf Limited filed for bankruptcy in May 1992.

Local opposition

The idea of a new financial services district was not popular with local residents as the expectation was that the development would provide no local jobs or transport improvements.However, over the course of the development relations with the local community have improved and more than 7,000 local (Tower Hamlets) residents work at Canary Wharf.

In 1997, some residents living on the Isle of Dogs launched a lawsuit against Canary Wharf Ltd for private nuisance because the tower caused interference with television signals. The residents lost the case.

Rescue and recovery

In December 1995 an international consortium, backed by the former owners of Olympia & York and other investors, bought the scheme. The new company was called Canary Wharf Limited, and later became Canary Wharf Group.

Recovery in the property market generally, coupled with continuing demand for high floor-plate grade A office accommodation, slowly improved the level of interest in the estate. A critical event in the recovery of Canary Wharf was the much-delayed start of work on the Jubilee Line, which the government wanted ready for the Millennium celebrations.

In March 2004 Canary Wharf Group plc was forced to be taken over by a consortium of investors led by Morgan Stanley using a vehicle named Songbird Estates.

Present day

Canary Wharf tenants include major banks, such as Barclays, Credit Suisse, HSBC and Citigroup, law firms such as Clifford Chancemarker, as well as news media and service firms, including Thomson Reuters, and Trinity Mirror.

The number of people employed on the estate is over 100,000 of whom around 25% live in the surrounding five boroughs. With the opening of Jubilee Place shopping centre, Canary Wharf has become a shopping destination.

Future developments

In 2009, Canary Wharf is surrounded by towers

Future developments are:

Name Height Floors Status
metres feet
Riverside South, Tower 2marker 189 610 38 Under Construction
Riverside South, Tower 1marker 236 774 45 Under Construction
North Quay, Tower 1 221 727 44 Approved
Heron Quays West 214 702 40 Approved

Open spaces

Canary Wharf has 5 open spaces. These are Canada Squaremarker, Jubilee Park, Cabot Squaremarker, Westferry Circus and Churchill Place.

Significance and impact

Canary Wharf aerial view
The most immediate impact of Canary Wharf has been to substantially increase land values in the surrounding area. This means that the Isle of Dogsmarker, which had previously been seen as suited for low-density light industrial development, has been up-rated. Projects such as South Quay Plaza and West India Quay are a direct consequence of this. At the peak of property prices in 2007, the HSBC building sold for a record £1.1 billion.

At the metropolitan level, Canary Wharf was, and remains, a direct challenge to the primacy of the City of Londonmarker as the UK's principal centre for the finance industry. Relations between Canary Wharf and the City of London Corporation have frequently been strained, with the City accusing Canary Wharf of poaching tenants, and Canary Wharf accusing the City of not catering to occupier needs.

Canary Wharf's national significance comes from what it replaces: the former docks were, as recently as 1961, the busiest in the world. They served huge industrial areas of east London and beyond. Both the docks and much of that industrial capacity are gone, with employment shifting to the service industry accommodated in office buildings. In this respect, Canary Wharf could be cited as the strongest single symbol of the changed economic geography of the United Kingdom.

References and notes

  1. West India Docks (1803-1980) (Port Cities) accessed 22 July 2008
  2. The West India Docks: The buildings: warehouses, Survey of London: volumes 43 and 44: Poplar, Blackwall and Isle of Dogs (1994), pp. 284-300. Retrieved 22 July 2008
  3. The court found against the appellants (Hunter and others) as private nuisance legislation generally concerns 'emanations' from land, not interference with such emanations. "Hunter and Others v. Canary Wharf Ltd./Hunter and Others v. London Docklands Corporation" House of Lords Session 1996-97. Retrieved on 2009-03-23.

See also

The Canary Wharf of the Northmarker

External links

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