In the ’30s the makers of Monopoly picked 22 iconic London streets for their board. Eighty years later our city looks rather different, so we've come up with some alternative – and undeniably awesome – locations for a 2016 version.
Deptford High Street
This raucous jumble of beauty parlours, bookies, bars and butchers is plenty cheap and really quite cheerful. Fiercely independent retailers (and a stonking thrice-weekly flea market) do a lively trade, with banter coming free of charge, whether you’re shopping for a tattoo, a vintage jacket or a halal chop.
Here are 11 reasons to go to Deptford High Street.
Walthamstow High Street
From Tuesday to Saturday, the agreeable racket of proper cor-blimey East Enders flogging fruit and veg at the market, alongside Tamil, Chinese, Nigerian and other diverse international hawkers, reflects London’s legendary plurality and openness. It’s the place to be whether you like fried chicken or want a phone unlocked, no questions asked.
Kilburn High Road
Sexy accents, ribald humour and really, really good pubs: praise be for the Irish community in north west London. To be sure, the main drag (an old Roman road) boasts everything from Polish grocers to Primark, plus a solidly highbrow indie theatre. But really? In NW6 it’s all about the craic.
In the curious hinterland that separates Dalston and Shoreditch, posh gourmands and tipsy revellers mingle with chatty Muslims outside the mosque. The brash neighbourhood toerags call each other ‘fam’ and rub shoulders with yummy mummies supping lattes on the Regent’s Canal towpath. It works, somehow.
Charlie Chaplin’s old stomping ground has plenty to say for itself. Burgess Park is perfect for a kickabout and boasts a fishing lake. Head north along the ramshackle hodgepodge of Ghanaian eateries, craft boozers and nail salons to arrive at The Artworks Elephant creative work hub, chock full of street food and groovy goings on.
Here are 14 reasons to go to Walworth Road.
You’ll be hard pressed to think of a nation not represented on this colourful West London artery. Mexican, Lebanese, Thai, Somali, Syrian and Afghan folk have all set up shop, amid cosy traditional pubs and still-relevant music venues. It’s a vivid, and utterly thriving, illustration of London multiculturalism in action.
Here are 11 reasons to go to Uxbridge Road.
This peculiarly-pluralised north London drag is a hub for the Turkish community, with garrulous barbershops, all-night grocers and bumper family-friendly restaurants. Their famous kebabs are authentically seasoned and served in ludicrously giant portions – a world away from the grisly doner shavings and soggy pitta you get elsewhere.
Here are 13 reasons to go to Green Lanes.
Meandering through comely East Dulwich, Lordship Lane is chock full of cutesy indie shops, posh nosh, elegant boutiques, a cinema and several excellent pubs. What it lacks in edge it makes up for in leafy serenity and beguiling architectural prettiness.
Here are 11 reasons to go to Lordship Lane.
Yes, the name means cock. Grow up. As mainstream Peckham revels in gritty, Red Stripe-chugging modishness, the upmarket denizens of Bellenden have instead prettified their shopping precinct with a lick of Farrow & Ball. Still south-London-friendly, the local residents’ association has many larger-than-life members (snicker).
Here are 13 reasons to go to Bellenden Road.
Brixton is frequently sneered at for ‘losing its soul’. Whatever. Step out of the tube station and turn left onto Brixton Road. The exhilarating mix of formidable Afro-Caribbean mums, skinny art students and mouthy drunks is as vibrant a human tableau as you’ll find anywhere on earth.
Near Brick Lane, but handy enough for the City, the folks here love a drink and aren’t scared of spending silly money on a bar tab. Great pubs at the Spitalfields end shade into basic-bitch territory toward Sports Direct and those anodyne posh flats co-owned by Wayne Rooney. Either way the watchword is ‘fun’.
Stretching in a graceful arc from London Fields to Regent’s Canal, this is a mecca for foodies lured by high-end speciality stallholders every Saturday. There’s no shortage of spots to grab a fancy cup of joe, or a pint for that matter. Plus arts, crafts, books, music, pie (and eels).
You can download an app that lets you play ‘snake’ with the LEDs illuminating the Granary Square fountains. Cool, eh? It also happens to overlook Regent’s Canal, and is a prime spot to gawp at foxy gender fluid students from Central Saint Martins. There’s really nothing square here.
Say what you will about Canary Wharf, its vertiginous towers and slick subterranean malls lend dowdy old London a certain futuristic élan. Plentiful waterfront more than makes up for one too many sun-blocking skyscrapers, and the high concentration of office workers makes for a reliably lively 5pm come Friday.
The flagship north London bar crawl runs the gamut from chi-chi cocktail speakeasies to two (count ‘em) Wetherspoons. Posh frock shops, all manner of eateries and boutiques stimulate the daytime crowds, while church-turned-kickass-venue Union Chapel calls the tunes. Never change, N1.
Here are 14 reasons to go to Upper Street.
Old Compton Street
Rich, pretty and defiantly camp – a theatre at one end and a cluster of sex shops by the other tells you what makes bawdy Old Compton Street sing. Whether breakfast at Balans, a swift jar in the Admiral Duncan or sushi at Dozo, you’re assured a gay old time.
Lamb’s Conduit Street
A lovely and all-too-rare example of what money can do when it retains a social conscience, this part-pedestrianised enclave has fiercely resisted the march of the chains. Nice old-fashioned pubs and a Fairtrade food co-op ensure the favoured haunt of Charles Dickens, no less, lives up to great expectations.
Marylebone High Street
Posh yet somehow still vibrant and bustling, Marylebone’s easy-on-the-eye High Street supports a healthy ecosystem of handy big chains and swanky one-off boutiques. A good crop of sensitively renovated boozers and reassuringly expensive restaurants make it well worth spending time, as well as dosh, here.
Come for the vistas, stay for the bottle shops and sly celeb-spotting. While London’s other comparably posh postcodes have devolved into playgrounds for plutocrats, Primrose Hill retains an artsy, even counter-cultural vibe. Smart homes, well-stocked bookshops and stately pubs gloriously align in the capital’s most alluring urban village.
Illustrations: Joe Snow
We acknowledge the genius of the original Monopoly (Hasbro).