The Square Mile

Piotr Malecki

The City of London and Canary Wharf, its second financial hub further east along the Thames, toghether account for almost a quarter of the UK's GDP. Here, every conversation starts and finishes with money.~~Every day, over half a million people commute into 'The City', London's traditional financial district, and Canary Wharf, its second business hub in East London. London generates almost a quarter of the UK's GDP, mainly through financial services. Close to 40% of global currency transactions are made in London making it the most appealing place for banking giants like HSBC and Citigroup to have their global headquarters. In addition to finance, other blue chip companies flock to London with up to a fifth of Europe's 500 largest companies headquartered in central London.

The seemingly inexhaustible demand for office space to accommodate all these institutions has given a number of leading architects bureaus the opportunity to augment the city's skyline with such playfully named additions as 'The Shard', 'The Gherkin', 'The Cheese grater' and 'The Pinnacle', which is currently on hold pending a redesign. Scurrying around these elegant buildings and populating the millions of square metres of office space is an army of keen and ambitious workers who like to think of themselves as living by the maxim of 'work hard, play hard'. As one developer working in The City puts it: 'The City is money, razzmatazz and party.'~~Despite recent scandals, including the LIBOR (London Interbank Offered Rate) scandal where major institutions were found to be manipulating exchange rates to make money, and the general antipathy now drawn by The City following the financial crash of 2008, the 'Square Mile', as it is known to Londoners, remains the pumping heart of the UK's economy and a pillar of the global financial system. Piotr Malecki walked the streets of The City, savouring the frenetic energy and ruthless determination of this powerhouse on the Thames and its hordes of hopefuls.

 

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      Businessmen in The City of London.A

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      A view across the River Thames of the Canary Wharf...

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      Canary Wharf Tower, in Docklands, London. To the left...

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      Commuters crowd the concourse within Canary Wharf...

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      Workers unload a delivery van outside a traditional...

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      Heron Tower (left) and The Swiss Re Tower (The...

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      Wagamama, a Japanese style fast food restuarant,...

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