'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyage’ is a work in progress, commissioned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority, and due to be completed in the autumn of 2008. The following tale represents research I have undertaken for the project which may or may not be used in the final book.
The North Wall is effectively a rectangle of over 130 acres [check] framed between the Liffey at North Wall Quay on the south Sheriff Street on the north, Commons Street on the west and the East Wall Road on the east. In Victorian times, the North Wall boomed with the berthage of the cross-channel ships, as well as the passenger and freight trains, and canal barges, that came and went from the Royal Canal and Point Depot. With the development of Alexandra Basin and other deep-sea options closer to the river mouth, North Wall went into decline and, by 1916, its streets were home to some of the most impoverished families in Europe. It is arguable that no place in Ireland has undergone such a profound change of landscape in the past decade than North Wall. The development began in 1994 when the Custom House Docks Development Authority had their remit extended to cover the land between Commons Street and Guild Street where such landmarks as Commerzbank and the National College of Ireland now stand. Meanwhile, the indefatigable businessman Harry Crosbie developed his lands around the Point Depot into the Point Village. In conjunction with Treasury Holdings, he has also expanded his empire into Spencer Dock. By 2010, North Wall and its riverside Convention Centre will be intrinsically linked to the south-side of the City by the Samuel Beckett Bridge. The Convention Centre, multinational headquarters, large public spaces, campshire walks, floating restaurants and cutting edge bridges provide a constant buzz of human activity. Few of the 21st century’s children will comprehend how, not so long ago, North Wall was the demesne of the Sheriff Street flats.