London at night was not always so glamorous. Buildings and monuments were not so well lighted as they are today. In fact, until recently even the bridges though Central London were not as vivid as we now see them.
As a student in the 80’s I wasn’t the bravest soul in London. In fact, you might have called me terribly timid. The darkness of London kept me from exploring and being mischievous like I should have been at that age. At some point, the lights came on and what was once dark and grungy showed off the beauty of London. The buildings glowed and life seemed to have ignited around town. I always say when London discovered lighting, everything changed and London began to sparkle. It’s true.
Funnily, today I trundle the streets of the city into the wee hours without a care in the world. My sense of adventure is far greater today and there isn’t much I fear – even in the dark. Today, London and night photography go hand in hand. What’s more is the crowds disappear at night. Most of the London’s daytime population disappears once working hours are finished. The absence of people and distraction allows you to see the city differently, especially if you are a photographer. If you are simply exploring the city as a visitor, night time is ideal. You can actually drink in this great city and appreciate it more without having to mind others.
What does any of this have to do with the London Eye and sounds? Not much really. The Eye brightened up the Southbank considerably. This big wheel is a well-oiled machine so there is little sound at all. As my curious mind wandered, I thought what if….what if the London Eye needs a tune up? What would the sound be? This happens when I have one of the most populous capital cities in the world all to myself at night. My creativity and imagination take over. I talk to the city and sometimes I think she talks back to me.
Sometimes I even go back in time to precarious situations. I once saw a photo exhibition showing the Jewish quarters in East London. Seeing the compelling imagery I retraced the steps of the photographer and imagined what life was like for the people during that time. And, as glossy as the Southbank is today, I try to imagine the time when the area which is now the London Eye was a bit dodgy and the walk toward Tower Bridge was grungy.
Time has drastically changed London. Like New York changed Times Square into a Disney-like atmosphere, so, too, is London changing in that direction. Gentrification updates the old, yet the old bits we love are paved over for homogenization and I’m unsure that is very interesting.
Below are a few images of the London Eye