High Street 2012 10) MILE END Regent's Canal to tube station
At the Regent's Canal High Street 2012 crosses from E1 to E3. Most drivers would never notice the thread of water beneath [photo], and a bus shelter blocks most of the view for waiting bendy-riders. Instead this is a towpath level treat, where walkers squeeze beneath the low brick arch and pray they don't meet a speeding cyclist ting-tinging their way round the blind corner through the darkness. The local local, The New Globe, has scattered a handful of wooden tables down by the waterside, should patrons fancy a pint in sight of Mile End Lock. More likely, from what I saw, it's a secluded spot for mischievous youth to gather and set fire to things, not all of them smokeable.
The next bridge is unique. It's called the GreenBridge, even though from underneath it's definitely yellow[photo]. It was built at the millennium as part of a major regeneration project, designed to link the two halves of Mile End Park without the need to dodge through the busy traffic below. The 'green' name derives from the grass and shrubs planted all along the 25m-wide bridge, essentially an elevated extension of the park, and a proper local landmark. Except that the bridgetop trees have almost all died, the shrubs have mostly shrivelled and the grass has grown patchy and faded, so the GreenBridge really isn't very green any longer. Maybe the park's gardeners forgot to water it regularly, or maybe Tower Hamlets budget just couldn't maintain the original pristine landscape. Whatever, this drought-stricken span always seems overlooked and underused by local people... much like the rest of Mile End Park. It's a salutary warning to planners of the 2012 Olympic Park up the road that money can create an amazing public space but nothing can force people to use it.
Never mind. If you lot don't want to use the Green Bridge much, it means I can stand up here more often and enjoy the view in peace. To the west is the half of HS2012 along which I've already walked, with a cluster of City skyscrapers just visible through Queen Mary's campus past the octagonal tower of The Guardian Angels[photo]. Bit close that church, isn't it? To the east stretches the glorious vista of, erm, Mile End[photo]. A gorgeous view for connoisseurs of tower blocks and dual carriageway - one side all leafy and avenue-y, the other rather more built-up and retail. The considerable breadth of the road is immediately evident - trams and trolleybuses used to run all along here without upsetting the rest of the traffic.
The Green Bridge provides an illusory crossing place, a secluded vantage point, somewhere to stand and stare. We really don't have enough contours in this part of London, so any accessible elevation is duly welcome. But the one thing you won't see from up here is the bustling parade beneath the green-glazed parapets - home to a series of restaurants and food shops whose construction helped to fund the project in the first place. Alas, that's where all the people are - down below buying frozen peas rather than up top enjoying the view. Their loss.
four local sights » New Globe: It's a pub near a university. It's got to be full of students, n'est-ce pas? [photo] » Club E3: The building on the corner with Burdett Road is Club E3, formerly known as Purple (formerly known by lots of other now-defunct names, formerly the Royal Hotel), where local hedonists queue for RnB, funky house and Old School Garage. » Mile End station: The station with the oh-so-convenient cross-platform interchange between the District and Central lines, currently looking a right mess because Metronet ripped all the tiles off and then went bust. [photo] » Onyx House: Piers Gough, designer of the Green Bridge, was also the architect of this two-tone office block opposite the station. Previously on this site an Odeon cinema, and before that a large mansion called Essex House (HQ of the Guild of Handicraft).