London Falling

Fueled by a finance boom, the city was a magnet for money and talent. Now a darker era looms

TOM STODDART / REPORTAGE / GETTY FOR TIME

The Gherkin was built in flush times. New buildings are being scrapped

When the 4,500 people who used to work for Lehman Brothers in London showed up at the investment bank's plush office on Canary Wharf on Sept. 15, only to be told that the firm was out of business and that they should look for another job, some of them did what any number of their colleagues around town have been doing for years: they threw a party. On the equity-trading floor, the internal p.a. system known as the "hoot" blared out the R.E.M. song "It's the End of the World As We Know It." And then, after collecting their personal possessions,...

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