I Love Hackney: 10 years on

Looking back over a decade of the 'I Love Hackney' campaign, from the iconic badges to the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend in 2012

WHEN in 2006, Sophie Allsopp and Phil Spencer declared Hackney ‘the worst place to live in the UK’, they could never have imagined the boost they were giving to the borough. 

“It’s all based on official data. We’re merely presenting the facts – harsh as they may be,” said Spencer in Channel 4 television show ‘The Best and Worst Places to Live in the UK’. Hackney, however, did not agree. 

Mayor Jules Pipe hit back, saying: “This kind of programme panders to the worst sort of middle England snobbery.”

After the TV show aired, Hackney Museum staff were spurred on to create an exhibition asking local celebrities why they loved the area. Hackney residents also rose to defend their borough and an extraordinary 10-year civic pride campaign was born. 

Customising the iconic ‘I Love NY’ branding, ‘I Love Hackney’ was emblazoned on hundreds of thousands of badges, bags and posters. Driven by the Council, it has been worn proudly by residents and visitors ever since, and customised to promote improvements from recycling and clean streets to public health.

In 2008, for example, the Olympic torch was handed over from Beijing to London, and gold I Love Hackney badges were created to mark the historic occasion.

By 2009, the campaign had become so successful that even the Duchess of Cornwall was snapped wearing a badge when she visited Hackney City Farm. 

Then in 2011, it became the banner under which Hackney united as a community post riots. I Love Hackney reached its zenith however, during the London 2012 Games. 

A massive programme of events was launched with the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend, featuring superstar headliners Jay Z and Rihanna. More than 35,000 ‘I Love Hackney’ badges were given out and worn proudly by festival-goers. The Council also produced a limited edition run with the Olympic colours of blue, yellow, green, black and red, to celebrate Hackney’s status as one of the six Olympic and Paralympic host boroughs.

The logo even appeared in 60m by 46m lettering on Mabley Green (above) so it was visible from the Olympic Park’s ArcelorMittal Orbit. 

In 2014, the ‘Cycle Hackney Love Hackney’ badge helped promote efforts to reduce pollution and increase health in the borough. And to encourage support for local shops and markets, designer James Long created ‘Love Hackney Shop Local’ cotton bags to give to customers. 

During last year’s Digital Shoreditch festival, the now familiar logo was pixelated to celebrate the tech sector’s positive impact on the local economy and employment.

In 2015, the ‘I Love Hackney’ taxi toured the borough and gave people the chance to record their thoughts via a video booth as part of the Council’s ‘Hackney: A Place For Everyone?’ consultation, which captured residents experiences of change in the borough over the past 10 years.

These efforts are working. In a new ipsos MORI poll, 90 per cent of residents agreed that people from different backgrounds get on well in Hackney, while 84 per cent said they felt a sense of belonging to their neighbourhood – significantly higher than inner London and national averages. We really do, it seems, love Hackney.