District of the London borough of Lambeth, lying to the south of the River Thames, to the east of Clapham, to the southwest of Camberwell, and to the north of Streatham; its centre lies around the junction of Brixton Hill, Coldharbour Lane (to the east), and Acre Lane (to the west). The area is vibrant, colourful, with many bars, clubs, and restaurants, yet has a reputation as an area historically affected by high unemployment, crime, and drug problems, especially during the 1980s. Police and Brixton locals clashed increasingly frequently in the late 1970s, leading to the Brixton riots in 1981; rioting occurred again in 1996.
In the 1940s and 1950s many of the immigrants who came to London from the West Indies settled in Brixton, and they have continued to contribute to its eclectic, multicultural atmosphere. With them they brought the sounds, styles, and flavours of the Caribbean, and it is largely these influences which make up modern-day Brixton. Visited by South African president Nelson Mandela in 1996, Brixton is seen internationally as a centre for black media and culture; it is the home of Choice FM radio and the Voice newspaper, the Black Cultural Archives, and many arts and design projects. Brixton is home to the Brixton Academy, biggest music venue in south London; The Fridge (which draws nightclubbers from across southeast England); and its own independent cinema, the Ritzy.
In the 11th century the area was known as Brixistane, meaning ‘the stone of Brihtsige’; these stones were used as a meeting point for communities. The oldest buildings in Brixton were built on and around Acre Lane, and include St Matthews Church (1812) and the Trinity Almshouses (1824). In 1880, Electric Avenue was so named after it became the first street in the area to be lit by electricity. The area also encompasses Brockwell Park, a large open space which hosts the annual Lambeth Country Show, and the Brockwell Lido (1937).