United Kingdom

Canary Wharf




The London Docklands, formed by a loop in the Thames River, began as a port in the 16th century.  The Industrial Revolution led to its expansion, and by the 1900s it became the largest port in the world.  Reaching its peak in 1961, the Docklands entered a period of decline brought on by the increased size of cargo ships, as it could no longer compete with other ports.  All of the docks were closed by 1981, and the area suffered from massive decline and high unemployment.


The Docklands Development Corporation was established by Margaret Thatcher in 1981 in an attempt to revive the old port.  Aided by tax breaks, the area was developed as a commercial center by Canadian real estate magnate Paul Reichmann of Olympia & York and named Canary Wharf, acquiring its name from the quay where fruit and vegetables from the Mediterranean and Canary Islands were once unloaded.  In 1990 the first Canary Wharf skyscraper was built, which remained Britain’s tallest building for two decades.  Major financial institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Credit Suisse, HSBC, Barclays and Citigroup all moved in.


Ownership of Canary Wharf continued to change, and it was ultimately purchased by a consortium led by Morgan Stanley.  The project continues to grow, currently employing over 100,000 people, a number which is expected to double over the next decade.  It contains 13 million square feet of office and retail space, including three shopping malls, an airport and parks.  A new rail line, set to open in 2018, will provide easier access.  Every year Canary Wharf hosts in excess of 100 art events and in the summer, screens are set up outside to watch major sporting events.


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