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Scene of the Finsbury Park van attack: one of London’s most diverse neighbourhoods

Finsbury Park is a typically diverse London suburb situated a few kilometres north of the city centre. It’s home to a staggering variety of nationalities and although it is undergoing a lot of gentrification ( a theatre has opened in recent years, a newly opened branch of the ubiquitous sandwich chain Pret A Manger), it is populated by people from all walks of life and retains a strong working-class flavour. The local MP is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who won a huge 33,000 majority at this month’s general election.

Other than its high-profile politician, it’s perhaps best known as home to Arsenal football club. On match days, the streets – and pubs – are surrendered to thousands of fans as they are disgorged from the sprawling Tube and railway station to walk to the Emirates stadium which – in a symbol of the area’s change – emerged gleaming from the site of a former waste tip in 2006.

To reach the ground, the fans have to walk past the local mosque, which became notorious in the 1990s because of its links to the radical cleric Abu Hamza. However, the current leaders have sought to purge its extremist past and rehabilitate its reputation.

The area is also the centre of London’s Algerian population, with the dense pocket of coffee shops and restaurants at the top of Blackstock Road known as “Little Algiers”. On any given day, the pavements throng with patrons and whenever their country’s football team plays the shops are packed with fans watching on TV.

Before that, the place was a popular landing point for Irish immigrants and they have left their mark with, among other things, local pubs named after their mountain ranges (the Twelve Pins) and folk songs (the Auld Triangle). Alumni of Finsbury Park’s Irish community include John Lydon, who grew up in Benwell Road next to the aforementioned waste tip.

Despite plenty of local character and the huge green swaths of the park itself, it’s not one of the capital’s most elegant thoroughfares and the part of Seven Sisters Road where Sunday night’s incident took place sits among disused shops and graffitied walls.

But the district has a rich history, not least in the former Rainbow theatre, which lies on the other side of the road from the Muslim Welfare House. This once legendary rock venue has hosted some of the greatest names in music such as The Who, Pink Floyd, David Bowie (on the Ziggy tour) and Bob Marley. It’s also where The Ramones recorded It’s Alive on New Year’s Eve in 1977. Eighteen years after that seminal night, it was converted into a Brazilian pentecostal church, the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God.

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