This is a part of the East End, which was much in decline, since Victorian times and the boom in shipping, until the 1980s. The land - brown field land if ever there was such - became available for a song, for development of offices, residential accommodation and facilities, close to the City of London.
Property developers quickly moved in, to grab the opportunity. Little did they realise the lack of infrastructure, and the problems that this would cause. It is all very well equipping thousands of homes and offices with telephones, but no provision had been made for that many distinct telephone numbers, especially for offices with direct dial. This was one of the main reasons behind the 1989 restructuring of the London telephone dialling codes from 01 into 071 (inner London) and 081 (outer London) - see Telephone Area Code For London.
The developers came close to bancruptcy, but were eventually bailed out by a consortium formed by investment banks - the London Docklands Development Corporation. The role in which investment banks played in the LDDC explains why many of them have UK headquarters in Docklands, particularly in Canary Wharf. For more information about the LDDC, see the LDDC History Pages.
More recently, infrastructure has been improved, including the Jubilee Line extension, which brought lifeblood to the area. But cynics have been eyeing the capacity aspects of this, and saying that the facilities will be unable to cope with the demands of the newer towers under construction. The present recession leads to thoughts in a different direction - that Docklands will become a ghost town.
Having worked in Canary Wharf for six months, I can give an opinion of what it feels like. The first impressions are awe inspiring. State of the art modern buildings, convenient public transport and shopping centres combine to appear to provide a conducive work environment. But, I quickly realised that the shops were not normal high street shops, but were catering specifically for a diurnal, office population. It's a great place to by nick-nacks - leaving presents, or snack lunches. If you are looking for somewhere to sell real food that you cook yourself, forget it. Similarly for bars, restaurants and entertainment; they are geared up for the office party, not for quiet locals.
I wouldn't live in Docklands if they paid me - well, they would have to pay me quite a lot, enough that I could afford to spend most of my time away from the area! --IvorW
Some would say Docklands is already a ghost town - the office space is used, but nobody walks around during the day, there are no real shops, and there's no community. Motorised transport is a requirement if you're planning to buy anything other than overpriced gewgaws. Real ale is pretty much nonexistent except for the City Pride and the Ledger Building. Remember that "southern Docklands" used to be known as "Millwall", and you'll see why it's not a very safe place to walk after dark either (for the few people that try it) - when I was working there, the pizza delivery men would sometimes get mugged, and didn't regard this as unusual. -- Roger
I've worked in Canary Wharf for five years, and lived on the Isle of Dogs for three. Over the last year or two, the area has become really popular over weekends, due to the opening of new bars and restaurants, as well as big new shops such as Waitrose. The proximity of Greenwich adds an additional set of pub options for those living in the "southern Docklands". -- Michael
Docklands is centred around the Isle of Dogs, the inside of a bend in the River Thames, but extends to both sides of the river, and includes Limehouse, [Rotherhithe]?, Canada Water and [Surrey Quays]? (formerly Surrey Docks) to the West, and [North Greenwich]? (site of the Millennium Dome) to the East.