Adam Dant’s Map of the Journey to the Heart of the East End
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The Museum of London commissioned cartographer extraordinaire Adam Dant to explore the question“Where is the East End today?” And, with characteristic ingenuity, Adam contrived an elaborate ruse, in the form of an epic quest to discover the heart of East London, resulting in the map you see above which records both the details of the journey and its unexpected outcome.
Daniel Langton served as Adam’s scout, making a reconnaissance by asking people on the street for the whereabouts of the heart of the East End and following their directions to the letter, however whimsical or strange. Some of the people “Scout Langton” encountered had never visited the territory before while others had lived here for generations, but all the directions they gave him led inexorably to the same location. Once the heart of the East End had been discovered, Adam designed his map around it, organising the postcodes of East London in a similar fashion to the map of central Paris which is structured around a spiral of the arrondissements in ascending numerical order. Thus his map charts the East End of popular conception and lore rather than the East End of conventional topography.
Those of us who are disappointed to learn that the consensus on the street is that a bin in Westfield Shopping Centre is perceived to be the heart of the East End, let us consider Odysseus. We may recall that while Ithaca was the purpose of his twenty-year voyage, Odysseus understood that Ithaca had given him a wonderful journey in itself. Let us contemplate Adam Dant’s map of the journey to the heart of the East End in the same spirit and take our consolation in the widely-held belief that “travelling is more important than arriving.”
According to Adam Dant’s researches on behalf of the Museum of London, this waste bin in the Westfield Shopping Centre in Stratford marks the Heart of the East End.
Map reproduced courtesy of Museum of London
Images copyright © Adam Dant
You may like to take a look at some of Adam Dant’s other maps
Click here to buy a copy of The Map of Spitalfields Life drawn by Adam Dant with descriptions by The Gentle Author