#3 Twin Cities: Williamsburg, Brooklyn – Hackney, East London

“Even with the newest wave of waterfront high-rise condominiums and gourmet cheese shops, much of the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn still feels appealingly scruffy. Posh as parts of it may now be, this is still a treeless, postindustrial landscape of chain-link fences, graffiti-bombed brick warehouses, and desolate blocks of vacant lots and auto-body shops.

But that is changing quickly. The renegade artists, biker gangs, and packs of feral dogs are long gone, replaced by young professionals, students, and urban back-to-the-landers. It seems that the brownfields have been resettled by the brownstoners.

Alongside the gentrification there is a burgeoning craft-driven counterculture earnestly trying to create a future where the handmade might triumph over the made-in-China.”

Wait a minute: what is The Boston Globe talking about? Because I swear I could just be listening to what is closer to our hearts here in London: the rebirth of Hackney into the emerging creative millieau of the startups, the foodies, the artists, the nightclubs, the fringe. Even the government-backed, venture capital-endorsed (in)famous TechCity.

There is a well established trend in the creative world that tries to make sense of the geographical connections between humans and places, between cities and other cities that seem to have evolved into mirror images of each other. The theory is not just the stuff of ‘cool hunting’ but part of a long-standing research that outstretches way back to Victorian writers, turn of the century physicists and mathematicians, and even modern filmmakers like Mike Cahill that have glimpsed this twinning.

The reality that quantum physics teaches us is one where nothing is casual, but the effect of factors. Are the creative people in Williamsburg and Hackney connected? Yes they are. SHould we expect similar companies emerging from each? Yes, they will come.

If you want to explore this theme with me, let me know if you have found other parallels between the two. I will keep this post alive with my own findings.

And if you thought that the Mast Brothers – see how jovially Rick Mast is jumping above, are not without their mirrored soulmate, I suggest you take the trip to Chocolate Lab @Avo Hotel, 82 Dalston Lane, London, E8 3AH, the home of Hackney’s own supreme artisan chocolatier Niko B


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