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The district of Islington is situated just to the north of central London. For much of its history the area was rural, and it was favoured by London's wealthy merchants and even royalty - Henry VIII (1509-47) in particular liked to hunt here.
By the 18th century the area was well known for its good farms, fresh spring water and rural attractions. It was also well known for its several schools and academies which educated many of London's middle classes.
Then in the 19th century, Islington became one of the first of London's outer districts to become industrialised. This was because the Grand Union Canal, and then the railway reached the area in the early 1800s, spurring on development.
By the 18th century the district was a popular residential district and was well known for its shops, theatres and music halls. But in the early 20th century the area went into decline.
For several decades the district had a dubious reputation and wasn't very popular. But then in the 1960s and 1970s Islington, like other areas such as Camden Town, was "rediscovered" and once again became a fashionable residential area.
Since then the district has undergone increasing gentrification, the most famous recent resident being Tony Blair. Nevertheless, some parts of Islington remain very poor with high unemployment, giving the district a very marked rich-poor divide.
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