Walking throughout London is incredibly rewarding when you think about all of the historical aspects of that particular journey. Through walkers like Frederick Gross and the flaneurs of Paris, we are able to find a variety of reasons to walk. One may walk aimlessly for the enjoyment of walking or even attempt to immerse themselves in a culture like a flaneur. Like these walkers who came before me and who have left and everlasting imprint on the meaning of walking, I felt it necessary to undertake the walk from New Cross to Greenwich Park. When deciding the walk that I wanted to take, I thought about the differences of environments of the particular areas that I was passing by. I wanted to observe the differences in areas in South of London as opposed to the more busier areas in Central London. My goal was to observe the differences as I continued on my path from New Cross to Greenwich in terms of the architecture, the types of people that inhabited the areas, and the shops that were around me.
As I left my place of residence in Loring Hall, a residence building belonging to Goldsmiths, I used my Google map on my phone to guide me on my path since I had no idea how to get there. The first thing I had to was walk out of St. James’s and make a right onto A2. Before continuing onto A2 in the direction that would lead me to Greenwich, I looked to my left and across the street is the New Cross Gate Tube Station. I proceed to walk on A2 and I notice several small businesses across the street from a bus stop. I see a Caribbean food place, two different chicken shops, a fresh produce store, a convenience store, and plenty more. At a glance, it seems very busy as cars come from left and right and I am only able to walk across the street when the traffic lights turn red. One of the buildings that I passed was a night club called “The Venue,” which looked interesting to me because it looked like a building that had not been touched since the 1980s, but it is still an active nightclub today. This night club used to be a cinema called the “Super Kinema,” that opened in 1925 (South London Guide). This cinema was then changed into a night club in In order for me to get to Greenwich, I had to stay on A2 for a while, but I pass a street called Clifton Rise that leads to a school called Deptford Green. I did not go all the way down to the school, but I noticed more Caribbean food places and another chicken shop. I wondered why there were so many of the same food places and if I would pass by more of them on my way to Greenwich; I did.
I continued walking down on A2 and as I passed New Cross Tube Station, I came across what seemed to be many houses and residential buildings. However, about two or three blocks from the station, it begins to be a lot busier with a lot of small businesses, grocery stores, a school for children called Addey and Stanhope, and many convenience stores. As I was walking around in this area, I observed the people that I saw. I saw many people who were of darker skin complexions and though I did see white people, there were very few in comparison. Once I continued walking, I came across a larger street called Deptford Broadway. When I looked around, it was continuously busy with cars going back and forth and it looked very much like New Cross. I then came across the Deptford Bridge Tube Station on the DLR line. So far, I had passed by three different Tube stations and the area, for the most part, all look the same, but once I walked passed the bridge, the area began to look noticeably different from what I had just walked by.
After continuing on A2 for quite some time, I made a left turn onto Greenwich High Road. As I continued on this road, the environment started to look different. I began seeing more trees, buildings that looked like residential ones, less local businesses, and more people who were white than where I had just walked from. This road seemed to be less busy as I continued my path to the park. I then passed by yet another Tube Station and this one was the Greenwich Station on the DLR line, and I knew that I was nearly at the park. As I continued to walk pass the station, I continued to see more trees near the buildings than I did before. I began to see more people from left and right as well as more restaurants and pubs than I had seen prior to arriving in this area. When I passed by a Sainsbury’s Local, Greenwich High Road then turned into A206. When I continued walking on this street, I came across banks, bookstores, and a building called the Greenwich Picturehouse, which is a big movie theatre. It seemed as though many people went into the cafes, shops, and movie theatre in this area because I constantly saw people coming in and out of these places. The next direction that I needed to take was a right onto Stockwell Street. On this street, there was a big, red cafe that I walked by called Cafe Rouge as well as an art gallery right across the street from it. I did not remain on this street for long since my directions told me that I needed to make a left onto Nevada Street.
When I made this right, I was lead into a narrow street with many shops. There was a pub/restaurant on the corner with a two cafes right across the street from it. I could see the park from the end of the street and as I am walking towards it, there is a theatre to my right called the Greenwich Theatre and I see some actors and actresses walking into it with their scripts in their hands. As I reached the end of the street, there is a pub right across from the park called the Greenwich Tavern. As I walk across the street to the park, I see gates that enclose the park and a huge open area. There are lots of families inside and outside of the park and this area is incredibly diverse. At first glance, I notice how much of a busy and highly-visited area this is because of the many people that fill up the park, many families that are walking together, and many pubs, restaurants, and shops that are all close together. Inside of the park, I see the Maritime Museum which is another reason why people come to this area. The gates on the right side of the entrance look very elegant and have small, gold arches on top of them. I immediately notice how different this area is compared to New Cross in terms of the amount of people that come here, the reasons they come there, as well as the types of shops. In this area of Greenwich, I don’t see any fast food places like I did in New Cross. I also do not see any Caribbean food shops at all in Greenwich compared to New Cross. By the end of this walk, I wondered why these two areas were so much different from each other.
At the start of my path, I saw and appreciated many of the small businesses that are in New Cross. These businesses aren’t just any old pub that people go to after work. Although there are a couple of pubs in New Cross, there are also places of cultural diversity. There are places where authentic food comes from the Caribbean and local businesses are able to prosper. However, once I made the left onto Greenwich High Road, these types of food were no where to be seen. Although there were small businesses in the area, I only saw food places that all served fish and chips. While this is a staple of London, it was all that I saw and it didn’t have the sense of diversity that New Cross and the path leading to Greenwich possessed. One of the reasons why I found so many Caribbean food places was because in the second half of the twentieth century, there were many black people that settled in this area that were from the Caribbean (Hidden London). One of the differences between Greenwich and New Cross is that there are major selling points in Greenwich. Greenwich Park was chosen to hold the international meridian that runs through the Greenwich Observatory in 1884, which is somewhere people would want to go visit (History of Greenwich). As I reflected on my walk, I found that there were cultural differences and the cultures changed as I began to leave the New Cross area. While the cultures of both areas are rich, Greenwich is definitely more of a touristic area with the park, the observatory, the Maritime Museum, as well as the meridian. I enjoyed the walk and it was like taking a walk into history because of the differences in environments and cultures and reflecting on why these differences exist.