Lonely Planet review
The East End’s main thoroughfare, Whitechapel Rd hums with a cacophony of Asian, African and Middle Eastern languages, its busy shops and market stalls selling everything from Indian snacks to Nigerian fabrics and Turkish jewellery, as the East End’s multitudinous ethnic groupings rub up against each other more or less comfortably.
It’s a chaotic and poor place, but it’s full of life. Within a few minutes’ walk of Whitechapel tube station you’ll find the large East London Mosque and, behind it, the Great Synagogue, built in 1899. Further down Fieldgate St, the enormous Tower House was once a hostel and then a dosshouse but is now a redeveloped apartment block. Past residents include Joseph Stalin and authors Jack London and George Orwell. The latter describes it in detail in Down and Out in Paris and London (1933).
North along Whitechapel Rd sits the Blind Beggar, where the notorious gangster Ronnie Kray shot George Cornell dead in 1966, in a turf war over control of the East End’s organised crime. He was jailed for life and died in 1995. After the intersection with Cambridge Heath Rd, this traditionally poor area’s history takes a more philanthropic turn, with a statue of William Booth (1829–1912), who established his Salvation Army Christian Mission here in 1865, and the Trinity Green Almshouses , poorhouses built for injured or retired sailors in 1695. The two rows of almshouses run at right angles away from the street, facing a village-type green and a chapel with a clock tower.