Hackney is trending right now. It’s happening: the art scene, the super-cool warehouses turned into bars, clubs, exhibition halls, restaurants and hip cafes.
When using the phrase “Hackney Kids”, we refer to 20-somethings typically not originally from Hackney, residents who migrated here in flocks as this became the cool part of town to move to.
In other words the hipsters, those who have victoriously outlived the Evening Standard article announcing them dead and buried last April, and have gone on surviving in cereal cafes on a strictly organic diet, armed with their macs, beards and single gear bikes. In harmony and in peace they cohabit the borough of Hackney and walk amongst the ‘’other kids”…. And as we are all a bit in awe of the new cool East London lifestyle, we forget or simply ignore the existence of the latter: the “other Hackney kids”.
They are those living the “other Hackney” reality. The reality outside the Café Otos and The Dolphins, the one that hits you when you happen to wander and take a walk off the high street (and my advice is to do this in the morning, as the night has a way of hiding certain uncomfortable truths). You find yourself amongst the many stern and grey council estates; the same reality that offers the embarrassing numbers in the reports on child poverty and housing.
Does anyone even read stats or reports on neighbourhoods, I wonder? Because I usually don’t. I have only just started to look at them and the questions come naturally. One of them would be: when we are reassured that, with new developments after the 2012 Olympic boost, Hackney figures as less deprived, does it mean that the “other Hackney kids” have become richer? Or have they simply given way to the new and more affluent kids, those who can actually afford the new flats priced on average at over 400k?
What we are witnessing in Hackney is not a new phenomenon, similar transformations have happened before and are still happening pretty much everywhere in London. Most of us have seen their local area go through changes and not always for the better, usually leading to the loss of beloved places, family run pubs or historic live venues to the adventage of contractors with the same luxurious flats projects (anyone remember the Buffalo Bar in Islington?…). But let’s make no mistake, what we are seeing here is not just the take over of a property, it is a whole constituency being gentrified and rendered unaffordable for its own locals.
Is Hackney literally pricing and kicking its own kids out, whilst telling them to become some other neighbourhood’s grown-ups?
Cover photo by Nico Hogg