Commercial Street, E1

Road in Whitechapel, existing between 1844 and now

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Road · Whitechapel · E1 · Contributed by The Underground Map
MARCH
11
2017
Click to enlarge image.
Commercial Street looking south, c.1907. Spitalfields Market is on the right.


Commercial Street is a major thoroughfare running north-south from Shoreditch High Street to Whitechapel High Street.

The first plans for a new street in Spitalfields and Whitechapel was made by a Select Committee on Metropolitan Improvements in August 1836. This Committee recommended the construction of a street ’from Finsbury Square to Whitechapel Church and the Commercial Road’, to run in a straight line from the Bishopsgate end of Middlesex Street to near the southern end of Osborn Street. An alternative scheme put to the Committee by the chairman of the Tower Hamlets Commissioners of Sewers was, however, closer to the line finally chosen.

By 1838, the proposed path of the new road was beginning to take shape after taking into consideration the opinions of various organisations and it was considered fortuitous that the road would cut through and remove numerous slums such as those in Rose Lane and Vine Street. Therefore, not only would it link northern routes to Commercial Road and thus the docks, but also achieve ’the destruction of a neighbourhood inhabited by persons addicted to vices and immorality of the worst description’ (the linking of Thrawl Street to the new street via Keate Court in 1859 was considered a highly desirable development).

The work of clearing these densely packed and often dangerous slums was no mean task. Men worked at night to empty and fill in the ’privy-pits’ in the congested courts on the line of the street. In November of 1844, the gas-pipes were laid and by December the street line from Whitechapel High Street to Christ Church had been completely marked out. The termination of the street at the church was ridiculed ’as if the only object of the line was to enable the sailors of our merchantmen to attend divine service on Sunday’

The laying of the new road effectively wiped out a number of streets. They were Essex Street, Rose Lane, Red Lion Street, Vine Street and much of Wheler Street.
The original name for the new road was Spital Street, but as a street of this name already existed nearby (in Mile End New Town), the name Commercial Street was agreed in September 1845 with building commencing in October.

An act of July 1846 authorised the extension of Commercial Street northwards (from Christ Church to Shoreditch High Street), though building did not start until 1851. By 1856 it had been paved as far as Fleur-de-lis Street and was finally completed in 1858.

Commercial Street presented a strange assortment of architectural styles, but the most popular became known as ’warehouse gothic’, examples of which are still extant today.

The cutting of Commercial Street through the notorious rookeries of Spitalfields failed to alleviate the criminality of the district, despite opening up notorious thoroughfares to greater scrutiny. Thus it played an important part in the lives of the local community and indeed the lives of the victims of the Whitechapel Murders.

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VIEW THE WHITECHAPEL AREA IN THE 1750s
The 1750 Rocque map is bounded by Sudbury (NW), Snaresbrook (NE), Eltham (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
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VIEW THE WHITECHAPEL AREA IN THE 1800s
The 1800 mapping is bounded by Stanmore (NW), Woodford (NE), Bromley (SE) and Hampton Court (SW).
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VIEW THE WHITECHAPEL AREA IN THE 1830s
The 1830 mapping is bounded by West Hampstead (NW), Hackney (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Chelsea (SW).
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VIEW THE WHITECHAPEL AREA IN THE 1860s
The 1860 mapping is bounded by Brent Cross (NW), Stratford (NE), Greenwich (SE) and Hammermith (SW).
Outside these bounds, the 1860 map does not display.

VIEW THE WHITECHAPEL AREA IN THE 1900s
The 1900 mapping covers all of the London area.

 

 
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Go to Whitechapel

Whitechapel

Whitechapel is a neighbourhood whose heart is Whitechapel Road itself, named for a small chapel of ease dedicated to St Mary.

By the late 1500s Whitechapel and the surrounding area had started becoming 'other half' of London. Located downwind of the genteel sections of west London which were to see the expansion of Westminster Abbey and construction of Buckingham Palace, it naturally attracted the more fragrant activities of the city, particularly tanneries, breweries, foundries (including the Whitechapel Bell Foundry which later cast Philadelphia's Liberty Bell and also Big Ben), slaughterhouses and, close by to the south, the gigantic Billingsgate fish market, famous in its day for the ornately foul language of the extremely Cockney fishwomen who worked there.

Population shifts from rural areas to London from the 1600s to the mid 1800s resulted in great numbers of more or less destitute people taking up residence amidst the industries and mercantile interests that had attracted them. By the 1840s Whitechapel, along with the enclaves of Wapping, Aldgate, Bethnal Green, Mile End, Limehouse and Stepney (collectively known today as the East End), had evolved, or devolved, into classic 'dickensian' London. Whitechapel Road itself was not particularly squalid through most of this period - it was the warren of small dark streets branching from it that contained the greatest suffering, filth and danger, especially Dorset St., Thrawl St., Berners St. (renamed Henriques St.), Wentworth St. and others.

In the Victorian era the base population of poor English country stock was swelled by immigrants from all over, particularly Irish and Jewish. 1888 saw the depredations of the Whitechapel Murderer, later known as 'Jack the Ripper'. In 1902, American author Jack London, looking to write a counterpart to Jacob Riis's seminal book How the Other Half Lives, donned ragged clothes and boarded in Whitechapel, detailing his experiences in The People of the Abyss. Riis had recently documented the astoundingly bad conditions in the leading city of the United States. Jack London, a socialist, thought it worthwhile to explore conditions in the leading city of the nation that had created modern capitalism. He concluded that English poverty was far rougher than the American variety. The juxtaposition of the poverty, homelessness, exploitive work conditions, prostitution, and infant mortality of Whitechapel and other East End locales with some of the greatest personal wealth the world has ever seen made it a focal point for leftist reformers of all kinds, from George Bernard Shaw, whose Fabian Society met regularly in Whitechapel, to Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, who boarded and led rallies in Whitechapel during his exile from Russia.

Whitechapel remained poor (and colourful) through the first half of the 20th Century, though somewhat less desperately so. It suffered great damage in the V2 German rocket attacks and the Blitz of World War II. Since then, Whitechapel has lost its notoriety, though it is still thoroughly working class. The Bangladeshis are the most visible migrant group there today and it is home to many aspiring artists and shoestring entrepreneurs.

Since the 1970s, Whitechapel and other nearby parts of East London have figured prominently in London's art scene. Probably the most prominent art venue is the Whitechapel Art Gallery, founded in 1901 and long an outpost of high culture in a poor neighbourhood. As the neighbourhood has gentrified, it has gained citywide, and even international, visibility and support.

Whitechapel, is a London Underground and London Overground station, on Whitechapel Road was opened in 1876 by the East London Railway on a line connecting Liverpool Street station in the City of London with destinations south of the River Thames. The station site was expanded in 1884, and again in 1902, to accommodate the services of the Metropolitan District Railway, a predecessor of the London Underground. The London Overground section of the station was closed between 2007 and 27 April 2010 for rebuilding, initially reopening for a preview service on 27 April 2010 with the full service starting on 23 May 2010.


LOCATIONS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
18 Folgate Street:   Dennis Severs' House in Folgate Street is a 'still-life drama' created by the previous owner as an 'historical imagination' of what life would have been like inside for a family of Huguenot silk weavers.
Aldgate East:   In a land east of Aldgate, lies the land of Aldgate East...
Shoreditch:   Shoreditch is a place in the London Borough of Hackney. It is a built-up district located 2.3 miles (3.7 km) north east of Charing Cross.
Spitalfields:   Spitalfields is near to Liverpool Street station and Brick Lane.
Whitechapel:   Whitechapel is a neighbourhood whose heart is Whitechapel Road itself, named for a small chapel of ease dedicated to St Mary.


PHOTOS OF THE AREA
London in 1457:   Goulston Street is a thoroughfare running north-south from Wentworth Street to Whitechapel High Street.
Wentworth Street (1901):   Turn-of-the-century fashion in east London.


NEARBY STREETS AND BUILDINGS ON THE UNDERGROUND MAP
Aden House, E1 · Adler Street, E1 · Angel Alley, E1 · Arcadia Court, E1 · Artillery Lane, E1 · Artillery Passage, E1 · Assam Street, E1 · Back Church Lane, E1 · Bacon Street, E1 · Batty Street, E1 · Bell Lane, E1 · Bethnal Green Road, E1 · Bevis Marks, EC3A · Bishops Square, E1 · Black Lion Yard, E1 · Blossom Street, E1 · Brady Street, E1 · Brayford Square, E1 · Brick Lane, E1 · Brune House, E1 · Brune Street, E1 · Brushfield Street, E1 · Brushfield Street, EC2M · Buckhurst Street, E1 · Buckle Street, E1 · Burr Close, E1W · Burslem Street, E1 · Buxton Street, E1 · Calvin Street, E1 · Cambridge Heath Road, E1 · Celia Blairman House, E1 · Central House, E1 · Chance Street, E1 · Chicksand Street, E1 · Chilton Street, E2 · Christian Street, E1 · City Industrial Estate, E1 · Club Row, E1 · Cobb Street, E1 · Code Street, E1 · College East, E1 · Commercial Street, E1 · Coppergate House, E1 · Corbet Place, E1 · Court Street, E1 · Crispin Place, E1 · Crispin Street, E1 · Cudworth Street, E1 · Cutler Street, E1 · Cutler Street, EC3A · Davenant Street, E1 · Deal Street, E1 · Devonshire Square, E1 · Devonshire Square, EC2M · Dorset Street, E1 · Dray Walk, E1 · Dukes Place, EC3A · Durward Street, E1 · Elder Street, E1 · Fairchild Place, EC2A · Fairchild Street, EC2A · Fairclough Street, E1 · Fashion Street, E1 · Fieldgate Street, E1 · Flower and Dean Street, E1 · Flower And Dean Walk, E1 · Folgate Street, E1 · Fordham Street, E1 · Fournier Street, E1 · Frying Pan Alley, E1 · Fulbourne Street, E1 · George Street, E1 · Golding Street, E1 · Goring Street, EC3A · Goulston Street, E1 · Graces Alley, E1 · Granary Road, E1 · Gravel Lane, E1 · Greatorex Street, E1 · Green Dragon Yard, E1 · Greenfield Road, E1 · Grimsby Street, E2 · Grindall House, E1 · Gun Street, E1 · Gunthorpe Street, E1 · Hanbury Street, E1 · Harrow Place, E1 · Hemming Street, E1 · Heneage Street, E1 · Henriques Street, E1 · Hermitage Court, E1W · High Street, E1 · Holywell Lane, EC2A · Houndsditch, EC3A · Hunton Street, E1 · Irongate House, EC3A · Ivory House, E1W · Key Close, E1 · Knighten Street, E1W · Knighton Street, E1W · Lamb Street, E1 · Langdale Street, E1 · Leyden Street, E1 · Links Yard, E1 · Little Paternoster Row, E1 · Lolesworth Close, E1 · London Fruit Exchange, E1 · Manningtree Street, E1 · Middlesex Street, E1 · Middlesex Street, EC3A · Monmouth House, E1 · Myrdle Street, E1 · Nesham Street, E1W · New Goulston Street, E1 · Noble Court, E1 · Norton Folgate, E1 · Norton Folgate, EC2M · Old Castle Street, E1 · Old Montague Street, E1 · Osborn Street, E1 · Osborne Street, E1 · Osbourne Street, E1 · Parfett Street, E1 · Parliament Court, E1 · Pedley Street, E1 · Philchurch Place, E1 · Pier Head, E1W · Pinchin Street, E1 · Plough Yard, EC2A · Plumbers Row, E1 · Princelet Street, E1 · Puma Court, E1 · Quaker Street, E1 · Raynham House, E1 · Redchurch Street, E2 · Romford Street, E1 · Royal Mint Court, EC3N · Sandys Row, E1 · Sclater Street, E1 · Selby Street, E1 · Settles Street, E1 · Seven Stars Yard, E1 · Shoreditch High Street, E1 · Silwex House, E1 · Spellman Street, E1 · Spelman House, E1 · Spelman Street, E1 · Spital Square, E1 · St Botolph Street, EC3A · St Katharines Way, E1W · St Mary Graces Court, E1 · St Thomas House, E1 · St. Botolph Street, EC3A · Stepney Green Court, E1 · Stepney High Street, E1 · Stockholm House, E1 · Stoney Lane, E1 · Stothard Place, EC2M · Strype Street, E1 · Tea Building, E1 · Tent Street, E1 · Tenter Ground, E1 · The Blue House, E1 · Thomas More Square, E1W · Thomas More Street, E1W · Thrawl Street, E1 · Three Colts Lane, E2 · Tower Bridge Approach, EC3N · Tower Bridge, E1W · Tower Walk, E1W · Toynbee Street, E1 · Umberston Street, E1 · Underwood Road, E1 · Vallance Road, E1 · Vaughan Way, E1W · Victoria Yard, E1 · Vine Court, E1 · Warren Place, E1 · Weaver Street, E1 · Wentworth Street, E1 · Wheler Street, E1 · Whitby Street, E1 · White Kennet Street, E1 · White Kennett Street, E1 · Whitechapel High Street, E1 · Whitechapel Road, E1 · Whitechapel Street, E1 · Whites Row, E1 · Widegate Street, E1 · Wilkes Street, E1 · Winthrop Street, E1 · Woodseer Street, E1 ·


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What is Commercial Street, E1 like as a place to live?

TRANSPORTATION
Good
DAILY LIFE
Good
SAFETY
Average
HEALTH
Poor
SPORTS AND LEISURE
Good
ENTERTAINMENT
Good
DEMOGRAPHICS
Average
Data from placeilive.com/

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Stanford's Geographical Establishment. London : Edward Stanford, 26 & 27, Cockspur St., Charing Cross, S.W. (1901)

Cruchley's New Plan of London (1848) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cruchley's New Plan of London Shewing all the new and intended improvements to the Present Time. - Cruchley's Superior Map of London, with references to upwards of 500 Streets, Squares, Public Places & C. improved to 1848: with a compendium of all Place of Public Amusements also shewing the Railways & Stations.
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Cary's New And Accurate Plan of London and Westminster (1818) FREE DOWNLOAD
Cary's map provides a detailed view of London. With print date of 1 January 1818, Cary's map has 27 panels arranged in 3 rows of 9 panels, each measuring approximately 6 1/2 by 10 5/8 inches. The complete map measures 32 1/8 by 59 1/2 inches. Digitising this map has involved aligning the panels into one contiguous map.
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John Rocque Map of London (1762) FREE DOWNLOAD
John Rocque (c. 1709–1762) was a surveyor, cartographer, engraver, map-seller and the son of Huguenot émigrés. Roque is now mainly remembered for his maps of London. This map dates from the second edition produced in 1762. London and his other maps brought him an appointment as cartographer to the Prince of Wales in 1751. His widow continued the business after his death. The map covers central London at a reduced level of detail compared with his 1745-6 map.
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Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge (1836) FREE DOWNLOAD
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London Underground Map (1921).  FREE DOWNLOAD
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The Environs of London (1865).  FREE DOWNLOAD
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London Underground Map (1908).  FREE DOWNLOAD
London Underground map from 1908.
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Ordnance Survey of the London region (1939) FREE DOWNLOAD
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Outer London (1901) FREE DOWNLOAD
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