While London is not terribly different from my hometown of New York City, spending a semester abroad there exposed me to an incredible resource the supposed "capital of the world" lacks: outdoor markets. No matter where you live in London, there is an outdoor market nearby. These should not be confused with NYC's rancid street fairs that peddle hot dogs and knockoff bags. No, London's markets offer rare vintage clothing, food from around the world and a fantastic opportunity to people-watch.
The Sunday Up-Market/Brick Lane Market was my absolute favorite because it offers fantastically cheap yet one-of-a-kind vintage clothing and food from seemingly every country on the planet (not to mention plenty of free samples!). You'll find much of the Sunday UpMarket after entering a giant room filled with secondhand clothing vendors:
While most of the clothes look priceless, many items cost under 20 pounds! Here I purchased the following dress--which I thought before buying would cost a good hundred pounds- for a mere 10 pounds:
The main room of the Sunday Up-Market leads into the Brick Lane Market, on the same road as dozens of Indian Restaurants. Here you'll see a endless array of food vendors selling everything from bibimbap to cookie-dough flavored cupcakes:
The Sunday UpMarket/Brick Lane Market is located in East London, which closely resembles Williamsburg in New York. It has many great stores such as Absolute Vintage (where I got the following bag for only 6 pounds):
and Blitz (the store I am pictured in below) which also sells books and lifestyle accessories:
All of London's markets, not just the Sunday UpMarket, provide people with an easy way to find resources and supplies, great food and sightseeing, a way to bring communities together, and most importantly, a way to directly engage with the city. Other cities and towns should take note of their potential for community-building and ability to make people love their city.