Islington

Islington is an area of London that has either been the birthplace of or home to more famous people than perhaps any other. There is, quite frankly, more of a sprinkle of stardust about Islington than in most other towns in any country put together. As well as being home to two of the last three winners of Britain’s premier talent contest The X Factor, it has also been the home of political names such as the former Prime Minister Tony Blair, and current Mayor of London Boris Johnson. In addition to this, one of English soccer’s most successful and popular clubs, Arsenal, has its home in the city, having once been located in the borough’s Highbury area before recently moving to the larger Emirates Stadium in Ashburton.

The list of names of people who have either been born in Islington or have lived there for a portion of their lives would put some parts of Los Angeles to shame, but it would be inaccurate to portray Islington as purely a place for the rich and famous to lay their heads. Indeed, for many non-London natives, the first encounter that they will have with the area is during a game of Monopoly. The London-based edition of the game has as one of its “light blue” properties the famous London district of the Angel. Although a back-handed compliment – the light blue properties being just ahead of the brown ones and thus considered just above the lower limit, this is just one way in which Islington has made an impact on public consciousness in the United Kingdom.

IslingtonIslington historically is also home to two of London’d more famous prisons – one at Pentonville and the other, a women’s prison, at Holloway. The prison at Holloway was the holding place for many of the Suffragettes, the women’s rights pressure group who did more than anything to bring about the conditions that allowed women to vote in the United Kingdom. Although the fact that it is home to two prisons may in many people’s eyes not be something to recommend Islington, it is definitely part of the area’s rich cultural tapestry. And in any case, the present day Islington is home to more cultural attractions than most boroughs. It is home, for example, to the Almeida Theatre, which holds an annual festival of contemporary opera, music and theatre. As well as this, it acts as something of a feeder to the larger theatres in London’s West End, with many plays that are successful in Islington going on to the bigger stages there.

In all, Islington makes a sterling contribution to the cultural and political life of London. And soccer fans hold it up as a centre of excellence too. Although Arsenal have gone for a while without winning a trophy, their manager Arsene Wenger has built one of the most entertaining sides in Europe, with neutrals delighting in their fast-flowing, attacking style of play. With French, Spanish and some Eastern European flair, the team reflects London’s cosmopolitan make up as strongly as any other.