So close, and yet so far away…

With my company’s offices caught between the business-like, uniformed City, and the funky and laid back Shoreditch area, I’m able to get a glimpse of both areas.

To the right: proud signboards promoting banks and law firms opened over a century ago.

To the left: colourful graffiti walls none less iconic than the bank signboards.

As I go for a walk during my lunch break I can wander to either side.

[quote_right] A colleague, pointing towards Shoreditch said to one of the execs, ‘you don’t want to go there’ [/quote_right] A few minutes to the right and I’m lost in a suit-clad mob, hurrying to get their lunch or perhaps a treatment, specifically designed to fit into their 45-minute break. A few minutes to the left and the atmosphere is much more relaxed, where suits are no longer dominant. On this side of the City you’ll see a more creative crowd hanging out.

But don’t be fooled – this lot take pride both in their appearance, and their jobs. It’s just that they seem to be more relaxed – in their dress, mannerisms, and attitude – than their City neighbours.

The City, one of the most important financial centres of the world, goes to sleep early evening and resembles a ghost town on weekends. Shoreditch, on the other hand, which in recent years became a hub of innovation and culture, never sleeps (watch out, NYC). Here, you can constantly feel the buzz, regardless of the time, or day of week.

Despite their differences, however, both City and Shoreditch locals share plenty of similarities. They’re both ambitious, love their gadgets, and have a propensity towards fashion, the arts, and socialising. As well, both neighbourhoods boast a vast number of shops, bars, and pubs. It’s just the crowds that are different.

Today at my firm, we had some executives visiting from the US. Funnily enough, just as I was thinking about the contrast in appearances between Shoreditch and the City, a colleague, pointing towards Shoreditch said to one of the execs, ‘you don’t want to go there’. I guess he meant that dressed as the man was, he’d stick out like a sore thumb. Luckily, my job doesn’t require me wearing a suit, so I should still be able to retain some street-cred if I go there.

But don’t take my word for it. Do you regard the City crowd as ‘outsiders’?