Monday, August 24, 2020

Canary Wharf and The London Eye.

 I always connect the London Eye with Canary Wharf due to the way the media seems to associate one with the other quite frequently.  For me, I always associate Canary Wharf with a battle on Dr Who when Rose was listed as a casualty but ended up in an alternate world alive.  Yes, I'm a Dr. Who fan and am proud of it but back to Canary Wharf.

Historically, Canary Wharf was used as a dock for ships of the East Indian Company going to and coming from the Canary Islands and the Mediterranean.  It was extremely busy because the United Kingdom imported vegetables and fruit from the area. Canary Wharf is located on the Isle of Dogs.

 Things stayed quite busy until the 1960's when shipments slowed down and by 1980, all the docks had closed down. One year later, the government's Secretary of State founded the Docklands Development Corporation whose focus was to try to rebuild the area. By 1988, construction began on a development funded by a Canadian millionaire.  

The new development contained One Canada Square which was the tallest building at that time and remained the tallest at 244 meters until 2010. By the early 1990's several banks and newspapers moved in and it was off but in 1992, the company running it filed for bankruptcy and it went into receivership with a variety of banks.  In 1995, the Canadian who funded the original development and his partners raised enough money to buy Canary Wharf back from the banks for 800 million pounds.. 

In 2004, another company Songbird lead by Morgan Stanley purchased it back from the Canadian developer after an 11 month battle for control.  Then five years later, Songbird collapsed due to it's debt load and Canary Wharf was purchased by another company. Around 2014, the management company arranged to expand the development by building 30 new buildings filled with stores, residential and offices , adding almost 5 million square feet more to the original buildings.

Now Canary Wharf is the second central business district in London with all it's banks and financial institutions.  In addition, it is one of the main financial centers in the United Kingdom and the world. 

The London Eye on the other hand is about four miles from Canary Wharf.  The London Eye is the huge Ferris wheel you see in pictures of London.  

In 1993, the Sunday Times and Great Britain's Architecture Foundation held a competition for a new landmark to celebrate the new millennium. Although no winner was selected, the architects who submitted the plan for this Ferris wheel decided to get it built themselves and found the land for it on the south side of the river Thames.

Construction began in 1998.  It was put together horizontally before being hoisted into it's current position in 1999.  It was originally named the "Millennium Wheel" in commemoration of the year 2000.  At 443 feet tall, it held the record for the tallest Ferris wheel in the world until 2006 when a new wheel was built in China that took the title away.

It has become one of London's biggest tourist attractions.  It is credited with people developing a new interest in Ferris wheels.  Although it is called a Ferris wheel it is actually classified as the worlds largest cantilevered observation wheel with 32 capsules, each capsule represents one of the boroughs of London.  It is possible to see as far as Windsor Castle from one of the capsules which is about 40 kilometers away.  Although, there are 32 capsules, there is no number 13 so instead of 1 to 32, they are numbered 1 to 12 and 14 to 33.  

In addition, the name was officially changed from the "Millennium Wheel" to the London Eye in March 2000 when they started charging admission.  It attracts over 3.5 million visitors each year and is the most popular paid tourist attraction in the United Kingdom and gets more visitors each year than the Taj Mahal and the Great Pyramids of Giza.

I've been to London but it was long enough ago to know really know about either place so I've put them on my list of places to visit the next time I go over which is probably going to be in another couple or three years.  Let me know what you think, I'd love to hear.  Have a great day.

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