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Old Street area guide

Old Street | EC1V

Area Guide

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Old Street Area Info

Old Street Area Info

Previously viewed as a major thoroughfare in and out of the city and dominated by traffic, Old Street is now slowly starting to develop its own unique character, separate from the areas that surround it. Of course being home to the third largest cluster of technology companies in the world, after San Francisco and New York, has partly defined the area and has given rise to the main roundabout being known locally as the Silicon Roundabout. However, the wider area now has its own impressive culinary, art and wellness scene, with new additions popping up almost on a monthly basis.

What’s more, Old Street roundabout itself, once considered a blot on the landscape, is currently undergoing a major makeover, making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians to pass through. The redevelopment will also include more community spaces, retail stores and dining hot spots, which will further add to the area’s appeal.

Heavy investment in residential developments and flexible office space has also helped transform Old Street in the last ten years. Professionals can now choose from a wide variety of properties from luxury developments with gyms, swimming pools and cinema rooms to original warehouse apartments.

Residents here enjoy an easy commute into the city and beyond with Old Street being a National Rail and London Underground station. It’s on the Bank branch of the Northern line between Moorgate and Angel stations and on the Northern City Line between Moorgate and Essex Road stations.

Primary schools in the area are all ranked good by Ofsted and include Moreland, St Luke’s CofE and St Peter and St Paul RC, while the two nearest secondary schools, Central Foundation Boys’ School and City of London Academy Islington both get an outstanding Ofsted ranking.

Things To Do In Old Street

Like it’s nearby neighbours, there’s no shortage of cafes, restaurants and bars in Old Street. You can get your caffeine fix and a lot more besides at Shoreditch Grind on the roundabout, a very trendy spot for people watching, quick bites at lunchtime as well as espresso martinis after work. Just a few seconds away from the tube station on Leonard Street, meanwhile, is the ever-popular Ozone, a great café that’s set in an industrial-cool building and features cold press juices, traditional espresso drinks as well as delicious breakfasts and brunches on its extensive menu.

For more substantial fodder, we highly recommend Moor & Mead at Montcalm East where you’ll be dished up best of British classics with a modern twist – in short, refined comfort food. If you’d prefer your dining more casual, however, then Serata Hall is the place for you. This leafy all-day bakery and gin distillery also does a fine line in coal-fired pizzas, which you can wash done with a cheeky cocktail, should you wish. Talking of which, no visit to the area would be complete without a trip to Simmons Bar, where cocktails, dreams and disco collide to giddy effect. However, if you prefer to imbibe in subterranean, speakeasy style, complete with live jazz and blues, then head over to Nightjar on the City Road, it will not disappoint.

Whitecross Street Market is well worth a visit, especially if you’re a fan of street food. Here you’ll find stalls offering such a wide variety - Turkish, Italian, Mexican, Spanish, French, we could go on – that you’ll feel like you’re on a round-the-world trip! Keep your eyes wide open when in this neck of the woods, as it’s also home to some fabulous street art including work by Jef Aérosol and Banksy. You’ll also find some lovely pockets of green space round here, too, including Hoxton Square, Finsbury Square, King Square Gardens and Shoreditch Park.

Should you be looking for a cultural fix, then head over to St Luke on Old Street, an 18th-century Grade I listed Hawksmoor church that also happens to be home of the London Symphony Orchestra. As well as being the LSO’s rehearsal and performance venue, it also hosts regular performances here, with past notable names including Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen and Sir Elton John.

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History of Old Street

Originally recorded as Ealdestrate circa 1200 and le Oldestrete in 1373. There is much speculation that the road might have been Roman as a connecting Silchester and Colchester, by passing round the City of London. The theory does bear out however. The eastern end connects Shoreditch High Street which started out as a Roman Road named Ermine Street. To the west, it joins up with Goswell Road, another Roman Route through Aldersgate. Goswell Road is also famous in its own right being the site of the first recorded – and at the time highly controversial – 4 minute mile which was set by a barrow boy called James Parrot on 9th May 1770. His winnings? 15 Guineas, equivalent to nearly 4 months’ wages! Of course, the record was famously broken by the late Sir Roger Bannister in 1954.

Old Street station opened in 1901 and is located under Silicon Roundabout. The station and its surroundings were modernised in the late 1960’s to include the sub surface structure you see today which also included space for various pop up retailers. The area has become influential in the UK’s cultural history. Commercially, the area is thriving with businesses including advertising, media and entertainment and financial firms. Old Street and nearby areas Great Eastern Street, Hoxton Square and Shoreditch are known for their nightlife.

Most notably, William Shakespeare performed at Britain’s first permanent playhouse which was located on Curtain Road in 1576 and many of his plays had their debut in and around the area. London’s first Methodist church was set up in Old Street on Dereham Street back in 1739 by the leading cleric John Wesley. Its previous incarnation was that of a foundry which made cannons for the Royal Arsenal and the nearby Honourable Artillery Company. The Church moved to City Road in 1778 where it still stands today.

Since 1899, Old Street has been home to the world renowned Moorfields Eye Hospital which, if you follow the painted green line out of Old Street station which is there to aid Moorfield’s visually impaired visitors, you’ll come across about 10 minutes’ walk along City Road.

Silicon Roundabout - London
Silicon Roundabout - London

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