Haus der Kulturen der Welt
Known locally as "the pregnant oyster," this center for the arts was a gift from the US to Berlin in 1957.
Rom-com connoisseurs may hear Notting Hill and think of the 1999 movie by the same name, but this affluent London neighborhood is far more than the setting of a Julia Roberts Hollywood flick. With a history dating back to the 14th century, Notting Hill has long been associated with the arts, and is today known for its pleasing architecture and multicultural events.
Originally a hamlet on rural land, modern-day Notting Hill developed following the expansion of London during the 19th century. Rich with heavy clay, the land was used for making bricks and tiles, and with so many pig farms nearby, the area was known as the Potteries and Piggeries. When the Ladbroke family arrived, they began developing the land to attract the upper-class.
The Ladbrokes worked with architect Thomas Allason, who laid out streets and houses to turn the area into a fashionable suburb. Allason designed homes in the Belgravia style, which featured lively private gardens. While the houses didn’t immediately attract the affluent, the burgeoning suburb did draw the likes of literary legend Thomas Hardy, who immersed himself in the city’s cultural scene during the 1860s.
The 20th century brought a significant shift to Notting Hill. As the middle-class moved away from employing servants, the houses lost their value. Then came the bombing campaigns of World War II, which left a wide wake of destruction. The decades that followed were rife with corruption, poverty and strained race relations until redevelopment efforts started in the 1970s.
Notting Hill is now one of London’s most desirable districts. Known for its colorful stucco-fronted houses, communal gardens and annual Caribbean Carnival celebration, it has reclaimed its storied charm and cosmopolitan style.
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