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Canary Wharf facts for kids

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Canary Wharf
Central business district
Canary Wharf from Greenwich riverside 2022-03-18.jpg
Canary Wharf viewed from Greenwich riverside 2022
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Population 68,700 (Millwall, Blackwall and Cubitt Town, East India and Lansbury and Limehouse wards 2011 Census)
OS grid reference TQ375802
London borough
Ceremonial county Greater London
Country England
Sovereign state United Kingdom
Post town LONDON
Postcode district E14
Police Metropolitan
Fire London
Ambulance London
EU Parliament London
UK Parliament
  • Poplar and Limehouse
London Assembly
List of places
51°30′18″N 0°01′21″W / 51.5050°N 0.0225°W / 51.5050; -0.0225

Canary Wharf is an area of London, England, located on the Isle of Dogs in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Canary Wharf is defined by the Greater London Authority as being part of London's central business district, alongside Central London. With the City of London, it constitutes one of the main financial centres in the United Kingdom and the world, containing many high-rise buildings including the third-tallest in the UK, One Canada Square, which opened on 26 August 1991.

Developed on the site of the former West India Docks, Canary Wharf contains around 16,000,000 sq ft (1,500,000 m2) of office and retail space. It has many open areas, including Canada Square, Cabot Square and Westferry Circus. Together with Heron Quays and Wood Wharf, it forms the Canary Wharf Estate, around 97 acres (39 hectares) in area.


Cabot Square, Canary Wharf - June 2008
Canary Wharf, view east from Cabot Square.

Canary Wharf is located on the West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs.

From 1802 to 1939, the area was one of the busiest docks in the world. After the 1960s, the port industry began to decline, leading to all the docks being closed by 1980. Of the three main docks of the West India Docks, the Canary Wharf estate occupies part of the north side and the entire south side of the Import Dock (North Dock), both sides of the Export Dock (Middle Dock) and the north side of the South Dock.

Canary Wharf itself takes its name from No. 32 berth of the West Wood Quay of the Import Dock. This was built in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines for the Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade. The Canary islands were so named after the large dogs found there by the Spanish (Gran Canaria from Canine) and as it is located on the Isle of Dogs, the quay and warehouse were given the name Canary Wharf.

After the docks closed in 1980, the British Government adopted policies to stimulate redevelopment of the area, including the creation of the London Docklands Development Corporation in 1981 and the granting of Urban Enterprise Zone status to the Isle of Dogs in 1982.

Canary Wharf aerial view (2009), from the southeast end of the Isle of Dogs.

The Canary Wharf of today began when Michael von Clemm, former chairman of Credit Suisse First Boston (CSFB), came up with the idea to convert Canary Wharf into a back office. Further discussions with G Ware Travelstead led to proposals for a new business district.

The project was sold to the Canadian company Olympia & York and construction began in 1988, master-planned by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill with Yorke Rosenberg Mardall as their UK advisors, and subsequently by Koetter Kim. The first buildings were completed in 1991, including One Canada Square, which became the UK's tallest building at the time and a symbol of the regeneration of Docklands. By the time it opened, the London commercial property market had collapsed, and Olympia and York Canary Wharf Limited filed for bankruptcy in May 1992.

Initially, the City of London saw Canary Wharf as an existential threat. It modified its planning laws to expand the provision of new offices in the City of London, for example, creating offices above railway stations (Blackfriars) and roads (Alban Gate). The resulting oversupply of office space contributed to the failure of the No 1 Canada Square project.

In 1997, some residents living on the Isle of Dogs launched a lawsuit against Canary Wharf Ltd for private nuisance because the tower interfered with television signals. The residents lost the case.

In December 1995 an international consortium, backed by the former owners of Olympia & York and other investors, bought the scheme. The new company was called Canary Wharf Limited, and later became Canary Wharf Group.

Recovery in the property market generally, coupled with continuing demand for large floorplate Grade A office space, slowly improved the level of interest. A critical event in the recovery was the much-delayed start of work on the Jubilee Line Extension, which the government wanted ready for the Millennium celebrations.

In March 2004, Canary Wharf Group plc. was taken over by a consortium of investors, backed by its largest shareholder Glick Family Investments and led by Morgan Stanley using a vehicle named Songbird Estates plc.

At the peak of property prices in 2007, the HSBC building sold for a record £1.1 billion.

In March 2014 planning permission was granted for the second residential building on the Canary Wharf estate, a 58-storey tower including 566 apartments plus shops and a health club.

In July 2014 Canary Wharf Group was granted planning permission for a major eastwards expansion of the Canary Wharf estate. The plans include the construction of 30 buildings comprising a total of 4.9 million square feet, including shops, 1.9 million square feet of commercial offices and 3,100 homes. Construction is planned to commence in autumn 2014 with the first buildings to be occupied at the end of 2018.

In 2014, Singapore listed Oxley Holdings, together with developer Ballymore UK, have a joint venture to set up a new waterfront township of Royal Wharf with 3385 new homes housing over 10,000 people.

Tallest buildings

This table lists completed buildings in Canary Wharf that are over 60 metres tall.

Ranking by height Image Name Height Floors Completion date Notes
Metres Feet
1 Londres 097..jpg One Canada Square 235 771 50 1991 The second-tallest completed building in the United Kingdom, the tallest being The Shard. Designed by Cesar Pelli, it was the tallest building in Europe upon completion in 1991. Multi-tenanted; occupiers include The Bank of New York Mellon, the CFA Institute, Clearstream, EEX (European Energy Exchange), Euler Hermes, the International Sugar Organization, Mahindra Satyam, MetLife, Moody's Analytics and Trinity Mirror.
2 HSBC Building London.jpg 8 Canada Square 200 655 42 2002 The joint fifth-tallest completed building in the United Kingdom. Occupied by HSBC as its world headquarters.
3 Citigroup EMEA Centre.jpg 25 Canada Square 200 655 42 2001 The joint fifth-tallest completed building in the United Kingdom. 25 Canada Square and 33 Canada Square together form a single complex known as the Citigroup Centre. Primarily occupied by Citigroup as its EMEA headquarters. Other tenants include Gain Capital, 3i Infotech, Lehman Brothers (in Administration), Crossrail, Instinet, Munich Re, MWB Group, SunGard and Wells Fargo.
4 Barclays HQ.jpg One Churchill Place 156 513 32 2005 Occupied by Barclays as its world headquarters. Currently the eighth-tallest building in the United Kingdom, it was originally planned to be 50 stories in height, but was scaled down to 31 after the 11 September attacks.
5 40 Bank Street Heron Quay London.jpg 40 Bank Street 153 502 33 2003 Multi-tenanted; occupiers include Allen & Overy, ANZ Bank, China Construction Bank, Duff & Phelps, Saxo Bank and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom.
6 Jp morgan building.jpg 25 Bank Street 153 502 33 2003 Occupied by JP Morgan Chase as its European headquarters since 2012.
7 10 Upper Bank Street London.jpg 10 Upper Bank Street 151 495 32 2003 Occupied by Clifford Chance as its world headquarters. Other occupiers include FTSE Group, Infosys, MasterCard, Deutsche Bank and Total.
8 Geograph-3639351-by-Alex-McGregor.jpg 25 Churchill Place 130 426 23 2014 The building houses the European Medicines Agency from early 2014 and Ernst & Young from 2015.
9 OneWestIndiaQuay.jpg 1 West India Quay 108 354 36 2004 Floors 1-12 are occupied by a Marriott Hotel. Floors 13-33 house 158 apartments.
10 33 Canada Square.jpg 33 Canada Square 105 344 18 1999 33 Canada Square and 25 Canada Square together form a single complex, see above for details.
11 1CabotSquare.jpg 1 Cabot Square 89 292 21 1991 Occupied by Credit Suisse.
12 Exterior of 5 Canada Square.jpg 5 Canada Square 88 288 16 2003 Occupied by Bank of America Merrill Lynch.
13 25CabotSquare.jpg 25 Cabot Square 81 265 17 1991 Occupied by Morgan Stanley. Morgan Stanley also occupies the nearby 20 Bank Street as its European headquarters. The architect was Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.
14 FSA, 25 The North Colonnade, London.gif 25 North Colonnade 80 262 15 1991 Occupied by the Financial Conduct Authority as its headquarters. The architect was John McAslan and Partners.
15 Morgan Stanley Building, Canary Wharf, London..jpg 20 Bank Street 68 223 14 2003 Occupied by Morgan Stanley as its European headquarters. Morgan Stanley also occupies the nearby 25 Cabot Square. It was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.


Canary Wharf is served by London-wide, regional, national and international transport connections.


Canary Wharf is in London fare zone 2, and several stations can be found throughout the estate.

Canary Wharf Tube Station (28015542538)
Canary Wharf tube station on the Jubilee line

Stations in Canary Wharf only offer direct connections to London and Berkshire destinations. Regional and national National Rail connections can be found elsewhere in London, including at Liverpool Street, Lewisham, London Bridge, Stratford, Stratford International and Waterloo.


A1020 Lower Lea Crossing - - 1362713
The A1020 Lower Lea Crossing, heading towards Canary Wharf. A shared use path for cycles and pedestrians also crosses the bridge.

Major roads near Canary Wharf include:

  • A12 - begins in nearby Blackwall and carries traffic northeast towards Stratford, the M11 (for Stansted Airport Airport interchange), and destinations in Essex and East Anglia.
  • A13 (East India Dock Road) - westbound to Limehouse and the City of London (Aldgate); eastbound towards Barking, the M25 and Southend (Airport interchange).
  • A102 (Blackwall Tunnel) - begins in nearby Blackwall and carries traffic southbound to Greenwich, the A2 and the A20 for destinations in Kent.
  • A1020 (Lower Lea Crossing) - carries traffic eastbound to London City Airport (Airport interchange).
  • A1203 (Limehouse Link) - carries traffic eastbound to Shadwell and the City of London (Tower Hill).
  • A1205 (Burdett Road) - carries traffic northbound to Mile End and Hackney.
  • A1206 (Westferry Circus/Prestons Road) - loops around the western, southern and eastern edges of the Isle of Dogs. Links to the A1261.
  • A1261 (Aspen Way) - westbound to the A13 for Limehouse and the City; eastbound to the A1020 for City Airport (Airport interchange) and the A13 towards Barking.

Air pollution

London MMB «V5 Canary Wharf
Low cloud and fog at Canary Wharf.

Transport for London (TfL) and the London Borough of Tower Hamlets monitor the air quality around Canary Wharf.

In 2017, an automatic monitoring station in Blackwall found that local air quality failed to meet UK National Air Quality Objectives, recording an annual average Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2) concentration of 56 μg/m3 (micrograms per cubic metre). The National Objective is set by the government at 40 μg/m3.

Alternative stations nearer Canary Wharf recorded cleaner air. Monitors at the Limehouse Link/Westferry Road junction and on Prestons Road recorded a 2017 annual average NO2 concentration of 40 μg/m3, which Tower Hamlets argue fails to meet the UK National Objective.


London Buses routes 135, 277, D3, D7, D8, N277 and N550 call at bus stops near Canary Wharf. Bus 135 links Canary Wharf directly to Liverpool Street in the City of London, and bus D8 to Stratford.


Several Riverboat services call at Canary Wharf Pier, including:

Tower, London Bridge City and Blackfriars are in the City of London. Oyster Cards are valid for travel on TfL-coordinated riverboat services.


London City Airport is three miles from Canary Wharf. Over 4.8 million passengers passed through City Airport in 2018. The airport serves domestic and international destinations, including New York.

London City Airport is on the DLR. Passengers from Canary Wharf can change trains at Poplar for services to the Airport.


The Canary Wharf Group, London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Transport for London (TfL) provide cycling infrastructure in and around Canary Wharf. Several leisure and commuter routes pass through or near the estate, including:

Cable Street cycle superhighway
Cycle Superhighway 3 passes to the north of Canary Wharf and links the estate to the City of London, Westminster and Hyde Park on a predominantly traffic-free route.
  • National Cycle Route 1 (NCR 1) - a leisure cycle route from Dover, Kent to Shetland, Scotland. The route is indirect, running through London on low-traffic paths. In North London, the route runs from the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to Enfield Lock via Canary Wharf, Mile End and Tottenham. The route runs to the west of Canary Wharf, parallel to the River Thames.
  • EuroVelo 2 ("The Capitals Route") - an international leisure cycle route from Moscow, Russia to Galway, Ireland. In North London, EV2 follows the route of NCR 1.
  • National Cycle Route 13 (NCR 13) - a leisure cycle route from the City to Fakenham, Norfolk. The route is indirect, running through East London on low-traffic paths. The route leaves London near Rainham.
  • Cycle Superhighway 3 (CS3) - a commuter cycle route from Barking to West London. The route runs east-west through nearby Poplar on low-traffic or residential streets. The route is signposted and unbroken.
    • East of Poplar, the route to Barking predominantly runs on traffic-free cycle track.
    • West of Limehouse, the route runs on low-traffic or traffic-free paths to Shadwell. The route is signposted and unbroken. After Shadwell, the route becomes a traffic-free cycle track which provides Canary Wharf with a direct link to Tower Hill, Blackfriars, Westminster, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park Corner and Lancaster Gate.
  • Cycleway from Hackney to the Isle of Dogs - proposed cycle link which would link Canary Wharf directly to Mile End on traffic-free cycle track.
  • Limehouse Cut towpath - shared-use path from nearby Limehouse to Stratford. The route is traffic-free.
  • Regent's Canal towpath - shared-use path from nearby Limehouse to Angel. The route is traffic-free and passes through Mile End, Haggerston, and Islington.

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