Inner borough of north-central Greater London, including the districts of Shoreditch and Stoke Newington; population (2001) 202,800. Transport, communications, financial services, and clothing manufacture are the largest employers.
In the 16th century Shoreditch was already a suburb of London, and by the mid 18th century its population was about 10,000. Proximity to the City of London and the railway brought rapid development from the mid-19th century and for a time Hackney was a fashionable residential area. Industries subsequently became established, particularly along the River Lee. Industrialization led to rapid development, and before World War II it was one of the most overcrowded areas in London. The area underwent much redevelopment after World War II, including housing estates, not all of which have proved durable.
Originally a village, Stoke Newington developed rapidly from the mid-19th century onwards, with the principal industry being the manufacture of clothing.
Features Hackney Downs and Hackney Marsh (once the haunt of highwaymen) are now a leisure area. The Theatre, in Shoreditch, is the site of England's first theatre (1576). The Geffrye Museum, housed in early 18th-century almshouses, opened as a museum in 1914. Other notable features of the borough are the early 16th-century Sutton House, housing the Early Music Centre; the early Georgian Christ Church, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor; and Spitalfields market, which moved here in 1991. The church at Stoke Newington has a late-medieval nave and a tower built in about 1560. The hackney carriage, originally a horse-drawn carriage for hire, is so named because harness horses were bred here in the 14th century.
Famous people associated with Hackney are Richard Burbage, Daniel Defoe, Kate Greenaway, Joseph Priestley, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Edgar Allen Poe. Isaac Watts, the Nonconformist hymn writer, lived here for most of his life, and the poet Anna Laetitia Barbauld lived here for many years.The Kray twins ran a crime syndicate in the area in the 1960s.
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A borough of N central Greater London, created in 1965 from the former metropolitan boroughs of Hackney, Shoreditch, and Stoke Newington....
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