Kate and I spent the day searching for that dream home together in an area that The London Compendium describes as "blighted with socially divisive housing and shambolic estates". Dickens described the streets of Whitechapel as "Crowded and filthy" and Hollingshead suggested Blackchapel was a more appropriate name for an area "overflowing with dirt, and misery, and rags."
We quite liked it, especially some of the bits around Stepney Green (which also boasts a small, chaotic city farm)
but Brick Lane is decidedly odd. When I first moved to London I recall it being a street of curry houses, wholesale suppliers and little else. The curry houses may have stayed, but everything else appears to have morphed into trendy retro clothes stores and bars, and the local community appears to have been over-run by people like me, or at least people like a ten year younger me.
I wasn't entirely sure I liked the change much.