Celebrating 1700 Days of my Photo-Journalism Project ‘The State of London’


The latest photos from Andy Worthington’s ongoing photo-journalism project ‘The State of London.’

If you can, please support ‘The State of London’, which is an entirely reader-supported project, with a donation. If you can help, please click on the button below to donate via PayPal.


Today marks 1,700 days since I first began posting a photo a day — plus accompanying essays — on ‘The State of London’ Facebook page; photos that were either taken on the day, or were drawn from the photos I’d started taking on bike rides throughout London’s 120 postcodes five years earlier. For anyone keeping count, that means that it’s now 3,526 days since I first set out on my bike to capture the changing face of London.

In the last 1,700 days, my ability to take photos has, I think, improved in general (largely because of the upgrade to my current camera, a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mk. II, in February 2019), and I have also, increasingly, devoted much more time to the essays that accompany each photo. I’m gratified to see that the project has steadily been gaining support, so that I recently welcomed my 5,000th follower.

As I have delved deeper into London’s history on my journeys, and in the research for the photos, I have come to recognize how resilient London is as a city, despite having lost so much in the Great Fire of London in 1666, and in the German bombing raids in World War II. Nevertheless, as I realized as soon as I began the project in May 2012, it has also recently been invaded, not by fire, or by a wartime enemy, but by predatory transnational capital, building huge new towers of offices in the City of London, and high-rise residential towers in Canary Wharf and in numerous former industrial sites across the capital (the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea Opportunity Area, for example), all eagerly facilitated by conniving politicians and generally supine architects.

Alongside this, predatory investment has also furthered the growing abyss between the rich and the poor through the demolition of neglected but structurally sound council estates, replaced with overly dense new developments in which at least half of the new homes are for private sale, despite an ever-growing need for homes at truly affordable rents (and by that, I mean ‘social rents’, typically £50 per adult per week).

‘The State of London’ began in the giddy but misplaced euphoria of the 2012 Olympic Games, which, as it typical when it comes to the Olympics, involved social cleansing, increased authoritarianism, and an artificial boost to land and property values. It’s also noteworthy that I began posting photos on Facebook just a month before the defining human disaster of the last decade in the capital — the inferno that engulfed Grenfell Tower in west London, killing 72 of the tower’s residents. These 72 people were killed not as a result of an unpreventable accident, but through deliberate neglect by those responsible for their safety (the “managed decline” of their properties), coupled with a refurbishment that, because of the deliberate erosion of safety standards as a matter of government policy, led to insanely inflammable cladding being used to make the tower look more “attractive.”

In recent years, of course, the bloated and unsustainable greed of those responsible for the collective well-being — or lack of it — of London’s inhabitants was suddenly and spectacularly undermined by the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic, which, unthinkably, shut down the bulk of the capital’s frenetic economic activity, turning the streets of the City and the West End into post-apocalypic ghost towns, and which I recorded on daily visits throughout the lockdowns. The arrival of Covid also reduced London’s population by about eight percent (700,000 people), as EU workers in the tourist, hospitality and entertainment industries suddenly couldn’t pay their rent, and left the country. In all likelihood, these lost workers will never return, as Brexit has made the UK, formerly a magnet of economic activity, into a profoundly unattractive destination for foreign workers.

1,700 days in, it remains to be seen how — or if — London can rally from the damage caused by Covid, Brexit and short-sighted greed, but the prognosis is not good, especially as those with power and money seem so blithely unconcerned by an even bigger threat — the catastrophic climate change that our leaders have shown themselves unwilling to treat with the urgency it so clearly requires.

London will survive, of course — as long as the planet remains habitable for human beings — but it is already suffering a decline as a result of all the factors outlined above, none of which can be wished away through the spectacularly empty soundbites so favoured by those in power at this particular time in history.

I hope you’ll stay with me as I continue to cycle throughout the city with my camera, chronicling the as yet unknown changes to come.

Andy Worthington
January 4, 2022

* * * * *

Andy Worthington is a freelance investigative journalist, activist, author, photographer (of an ongoing photo-journalism project, ‘The State of London’), film-maker and singer-songwriter (the lead singer and main songwriter for the London-based band The Four Fathers, whose music is available via Bandcamp). He is the co-founder of the Close Guantánamo campaign (and see the latest photo campaign here) and the successful We Stand With Shaker campaign of 2014-15, and the author of The Guantánamo Files: The Stories of the 774 Detainees in America’s Illegal Prison and of two other books: Stonehenge: Celebration and Subversion and The Battle of the Beanfield. He is also the co-director (with Polly Nash) of the documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (available on DVD here, or you can watch it online here, via the production company Spectacle, for £2.50).

In 2017, Andy became very involved in housing issues. He is the narrator of the documentary film, ‘Concrete Soldiers UK’, about the destruction of council estates, and the inspiring resistance of residents, he wrote a song ‘Grenfell’, in the aftermath of the entirely preventable fire in June 2017 that killed over 70 people, and he also set up ‘No Social Cleansing in Lewisham’ as a focal point for resistance to estate destruction and the loss of community space in his home borough in south east London. For two months, from August to October 2018, he was part of the occupation of the Old Tidemill Wildlife Garden in Deptford, to prevent its destruction — and that of 16 structurally sound council flats next door — by Lewisham Council and Peabody. Although the garden was violently evicted by bailiffs on October 29, 2018, and the trees were cut down on February 27, 2019, the struggle for housing justice — and against environmental destruction — continues.

To receive new articles in your inbox, please subscribe to Andy’s RSS feed — and he can also be found on Facebook (and here), Twitter, Flickr and YouTube. Also see the six-part definitive Guantánamo prisoner list, The Complete Guantánamo Files, the definitive Guantánamo habeas list, the full military commissions list, and the chronological list of all Andy’s articles.

Please also consider joining the Close Guantánamo campaign, and, if you appreciate Andy’s work, feel free to make a donation.

One Response

  1. Andy Worthington says...

    When I posted this on Facebook, I wrote:

    Here’s my latest article, celebrating 1,700 days since I first began posting photos of London, with accompanying essays, on ‘The State of London’ Facebook page, which I established in May 2017, on the fifth anniversary of when I first started cycling around London’s 120 postcodes taking photos, and which recently reached 5,000 followers.

    Thanks to everyone taking an interest in the project. With Covid, Brexit and climate change all providing extraordinary challenges, I have no clear idea of what 2022 will bring, but I hope you’ll be with me for the journey.

    And if you can make a donation to support this reader-funded project, it will be most welcome!

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Andy Worthington

Investigative journalist, author, campaigner, commentator and public speaker. Recognized as an authority on Guantánamo and the “war on terror.” Co-founder, Close Guantánamo and We Stand With Shaker. Also, photo-journalist (The State of London), and singer and songwriter (The Four Fathers).
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