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The Map Of Shoreditch As New York

July 3, 2018
by the gentle author

Join me from six this Thursday 5th July for the East End launch party celebrating publication of Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND at The Townhouse, 5 Fournier St, E1. Adam’s exhibition in Spitalfields runs until 22nd July and his exhibition at The Map House in Knightsbridge continues until 14th July.

Click here to order a signed copy


(Click to enlarge)

When Adam Dant drew this map of Shoreditch as New York in the last century, he could not have been aware how prescient his vision might become. With a line of towers sprouting along Shoreditch High St and a host more in the pipeline, it may not be more than few years before the resemblance between this corner of the East End and Manhattan is more than a mere fancy.

“People sometimes say they like the New-Yorky feel, here in Shoreditch,” admitted Adam with a discernible twinkle in his eye, when I asked him how he came to draw this map of Shoreditch as New York. In his arresting conceit, Old St roundabout is transformed into Old St Circle, Arnold Circus Park becomes Madison Square Gardens and Liverpool St Station becomes Grand Central Station. The buildings and terminology are Americanised too, Brick Lane becomes Brick Lane Avenue, Bethnal Green Rd becomes Bethnal Green Boulevard and Quaker St becomes simply Quaker.

The comparison becomes less far fetched than you might assume, because Broadway in New York is along the line of an ancient pathway followed by the Algonquin tribe, whereas in Shoreditch, Old St follows the route of a primeval trackway of the ancient Britons, and Canal St in New York follows the route of the former canal whereas Shoreditch takes its name from the ‘suer’ that was once ditched and is now piped off. Both places are renowned for their mix of artists and immigrant culture, and down in Brushfield St, on the site of the Spitalfields Market, Adam has drawn New York’s Ellis Island building in acknowledgement of the immigrants who have come to New York and Spitalfields, defining the nature of these locations today.

Looking around the neighbourhood, you quickly come upon further clues. We have Rivington St just as they do, and Broadway Market and Columbia Rd too, chiming with New York. And the extension of the Great Eastern Railway up to Old St created a narrow triangular plot, occupied by a tall tapered building at the bottom of Great Eastern St which is reminiscent of the Flat Iron Building. Many people live in lofts in this vicinity today just as you might find in Soho or Tribeca. Here we have Shoreditch House whereas in New York they have Soho House.

One day, Adam & I were stopped in our tracks by an image on a passing truck in Redchurch St, showing New York viewed through Tower Bridge grafted onto the Brooklyn Bridge. But was it Tower Bridge joining the Brooklyn Bridge across the East River with Manhattan in the background? Or was it London with the New York Financial District transferred to Shad Thames? Was it London-as-New York or New York-as-London? We stood and looked at each other in amazement …





Adam Dant’s MAPS OF LONDON & BEYOND is a mighty monograph collecting together all your favourite works by Spitalfields Life‘s cartographer extraordinaire in a beautiful big hardback book.

Including a map of London riots, the locations of early coffee houses and a colourful depiction of slang through the centuries, Adam Dant’s vision of city life and our prevailing obsessions with money, power and the pursuit of pleasure may genuinely be described as ‘Hogarthian.’

Unparalleled in his draughtsmanship and inventiveness, Adam Dant explores the byways of English cultural history in his ingenious drawings, annotated with erudite commentary and offering hours of fascination for the curious.

The book includes an extensive interview with Adam Dant by The Gentle Author.

Adam Dant’s  limited edition prints are available to purchase through TAG Fine Arts

One Response leave one →
  1. julia harrison permalink
    July 3, 2018

    Many congratulations indeed on this remarkable and very beautiful book.

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