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Design

Launderettes of London

As a new photo project shows, these places aren’t just bright and slightly battered spots to clean clothes—they’re community hubs where people linger and make connections.
Two customers chat at a laundry in Cricklewood, Northwest London.
Two customers chat at a laundry in Cricklewood, Northwest London.Joshua Blackburn

Sometimes in a city, it’s the things you pay least notice to that turn out to have the most character. Take, for example, London’s launderettes (known as laundromats in the U.S.).

Present on the main streets of most of the city’s low and middle income neighborhoods, these workaday establishments are the sort of place you might walk past daily without really looking at. Give them a second look, however, and you’ll often see something fascinating: not just a bright and slightly battered late 20th century appearance, but also places that are community hubs where people linger and make connections.