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An East London hub for arts and sport


Arts and Performance Venues
Velo Park
Hackney Marshes
City farms
Broadway Market
In recent decades, Hackney has changed a lot. Most recently, its eastern side has been taken over by the 24-hour building site of the 2012 Olympic Park, a sight which can't help but summon an atmosphere of change and anticipation.
It's perhaps no wonder that the district occupies an important place in the world of London art. You'll find it on the streets, in the form of murals, and through tiny doorways, hidden inside one of the many private studios. There are established galleries too; Iniva, for example, has a focus on contemporary visual work, while the White Cube supports young British artists.

White Cube
Photo Tarquin Binary
The biggest performance venue is the Hackney Empire; it's been a London institution since its opening in 1901. Once upon a time its boards were graced by such early film heroes as Charlie Chaplin and Stan Laurel. Nowadays it hosts everything from pantomime to opera. New writing has a home at Arcola Theatre, which boasts London's largest theatre studio. Film fans have the beautiful art deco Rio Cinema, while jazz enthusiasts have the legendary Vortex Club.
The borough's museums range similarly from the large and conventional to the tiny and strange. The Hackney Museum, firstly, shows why the area has a reputation for being so welcoming. It tells the stories of the settlers that have made their homes here over the past 1000 years. Then there's the Geffrye Museum, an exhibition of interior design that puts rooms from the past firmly in the present. Imagine a cross between time travel, and Ikea. Last but not least is the Clown Archive. It's only open once a month, but seize any chance you can get to see this collection of photos, props and facial make-up patterns (painted onto eggs)!

Almhouses forming the Geffrye Museum
Photo Maryc
2012's Olympics will leave a lasting impression on Hackney. The Velo Park, a brand new £100 million stadium, will be arguably the world's greatest cycling venue. After the Games, it will provide facilities - including bike trails and BMX tracks - for both professional athletes and the local community.
This sort of development is happening across much of London, but it's especially appropriate in a place with such strong sporting heritage as Hackney. For the last hundred years this has been the spiritual home of amateur football, thanks to the 88 full-size pitches on the Hackney Marshes. A recently-constructed complex provides refreshments and changing facilities for the players and public.
The marsh is just one of Hackney's green spaces. Clissold Park, with its playground and sports fields, is another. It's on the former estate of a country manor, which is now used as a cafe. There are even farms tucked inside this busy urban area. Both Hackney and Spitalfields city farms offer a slice of country life, in a place you wouldn't expect to find it. They run classes and workshops to promote a more sustainable way of life.
The products grown in these spaces are often for sale at markets like Broadway, which has been running since the 1890s. The Ridley Road Market, meanwhile, offers goods from just about anywhere, including Africa, Asia and the Mediterranean. It's a good indicator of just how varied and multicultural Hackney has become.

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