London Docklands Development Corporation
The first large-scale private development plan, the Canary Wharf Project, was launched in the mid-1980s. The Canadian developer Olympia & York bought the project and started construction in 1988 of what would become the heart of the Docklands redevelopment.
Canary Wharf Tower
To make matters worse, in 1992 a recession caused the property market to collapse. The developer went into bankruptcy and the whole project seemed to be an enormous failure.
A Booming District
in the Docklands
The working population in the area rose from 13,400 in 1996 to about 90,000 in 2006. Canary Wharf now boasts a cluster of skyscrapers and is already dubbed Manhattan on Thames. More importantly the area also started to attract residents, a shopping mall, bars and restaurants.
One of the monuments is known as the Traffic Light Tree, a structure with seventy-five traffic lights created by the French artist Pierre Vivant. It was installed in 1998 to replace a dying tree and is said to represent the relentlessness of Canary Wharf. The eight meter tall monument is located at the edge of Canary Wharf, on a roundabout at Trafalgar Way.
Another interesting monument is the Centaur, a modern sculpture created by the Polish sculptor Igor Mitoraj. The surreal work, which shows the mythical figure of a horse with a male torso, was installed in 1992 at Montgomery Square.
Canary Wharf is also home to the Museum of the London Docklands, a museum that tells the history of the Docklands and the Thames River from the Roman times to today. The museum, which is housed in a large nineteenth-century warehouse on West India Quay, is a branch of the Museum of London. A statue in front of the museum commemorates Robert Milligan, a merchant and shipowner who built the West India Docks and controlled the trade on the import of goods from the West Indies.