Dating back to the 14th century, Whitechapel has long been associated with London’s criminal underworld, as it’s the location of Jack the Ripper’s murders and many of the Kray brothers’ offenses. Today, the trendy district proudly boasts an architectural, artistic, and culinary heritage that reflects the capital’s cultural diversity.
History and true crime buffs can see Whitechapel on a Kray Twin or Jack the Ripper-themed walking tour, visiting the sites of their violent acts and learning about the social circumstances that led to their reigns of terror. Visitors will also enjoy exploring Whitechapel’s vibrant culture by dropping into one of the district’s popular curry houses, and checking out local galleries, street art, markets, coffee shops, and pubs.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A historical walking tour is a must for anyone interested in the district’s criminal past.
- The area’s restaurants, bars, and cafés are popular with local creatives, workers, and visitors.
- Remember your umbrella and raincoat, especially in winter, as London’s streets can be wet and windy.
- The public paths are mostly accessible to wheelchair users, though it’s recommended to check access arrangements with specific tours and attractions ahead of time.
How to Get There
Whitechapel station serves the area, with both Underground and Overground line access. Aldgate, Aldgate East, and Shadwell stations are also nearby. Whitechapel Road and Commercial Road are both major thoroughfares, and are frequented by many local buses.
When to Get There
Crime tours are particularly atmospheric after sunset, with winter’s early dusk providing a perfect backdrop for spine-chilling tales. The district’s multicultural heritage also provides a year-round program of local festivities to enjoy, including Eid al-Fitr celebrations led by the East London Mosque in June, as well as Christmas merrymaking in December.
Immigration in Whitechapel
During the 19th century, many Irish and Jewish families moved to London, fleeing persecution or famine and seeking work. Most of those people settled in the traditionally working-class areas of the East End. During the mid-20th century, many poor immigrants from Bangladesh moved to the area. Several social-history tours provide further insight into these population shifts, as well as their political, cultural, and economic influence on the city.