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London – a world city

Enquiry question: Is London a city for people or for profit?
Learning objectives

    Knowledge and understanding

    • The rapid growth of financial services has led to London’s reinvention as a world city

    • London’s status as a world city is reflected in new architecture and greater wealth

    • The increase of the ‘super-rich’ in London is leading to gentrification and growing inequality

      Geographical skills

      • Urban field-sketching +/or photography

      • Ethnic/gender representation survey

      • Wealth/poverty mapping

      • Gentrification questionnaire

      • Business survey

      Pre-visit recommendation

      Students should:

      • Have background knowledge of the concept of a world city

      • Be familiar with a map of London and the locations they will visit

      • Use Booth’s Poverty Map of London to consider how they could map wealth and poverty today


      Meet at Tower Hill station. Explain that during the day we will travel from the centre of London, eastwards to the Olympic Park to consider whether London’s status as a world city makes it a city for people or for profit.


      None required


      Location 1: Tower Bridge Walk to Tower Bridge. Point out features that exemplify London’s past and present functions. What do students consider to be London’s major function now? How is this reflected in the skyline? Students draw panoramic sketch/take photos of London skyline. They annotate changes in London’s functions and architecture.

      Location 2: Royal Exchange Walk or take tube from Tower Hill to Bank. Visit Royal Exchange. It represents one of the original functions of the city (trade) and is now a space for luxury brands and restaurants. Inside or outside, students count one hundred city workers, classifying them into male and female, white and non-white, to estimate gender and ethnic representation in the workforce.

      Location 3: Liverpool Street/Spitalfields Walk from Bank to Liverpool Street station.

      Point out to students this zone marks the edge of City. There is a sharp divide between wealth and poverty, partly due gentrification. Ask students how they would map wealth and poverty today as Booth did in 19th century. They choose one or two suitable methods from the resource sheets. Then, working in groups, they use their ideas to rate levels of wealth and poverty along a transect, west to east, across Spitalfields. Each group works in one square on the transect. Share the groups’ results to complete a new wealth/poverty map. How does wealth and poverty change along the transect? What is the evidence of gentrification?

      Location 4: Whitechapel Take train from Walk from the lower end of Brick Lane along Whitechapel Road to Whitechapel station. Students investigate the impact of the Elizabeth line on local business. They conduct a survey of business owners in shops and stalls close to the station.


      Location 1

      Sheet 1: London’s functions

      Sheet 2: London skyline

      Location 2

      Sheet 3: Men in suits

      Location 3

      Sheet 4: Mapping wealth and poverty

      Sheet 5: Measuring deprivation – quality of life

      Sheet 6: Measuring deprivation – shops and services

      Sheet 7: Measuring deprivation – housing density

      Sheet 8: Spitalfields transect

      Sheet 9: Gentrification questionnaire

      Location 4

      Sheet 10: Business survey


      Students review their experiences from the day, trying to draw links between them. What impact does London’s world city status have on the city skyline? What about the impact on areas outside the city centre? Can the drive for profit be met at the same time as peoples’ needs?


      Sheet 11: London – a world city

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