Bethnal Green is a district of the East End of London, England and part of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets. Located 3.3 miles (5.3 km) northeast of Charing Cross, it was historically an agrarian hamlet in the ancient parish of Stepney, Middlesex. Following population increases caused by the expansion of London during the 18th century, it was split off as the parish of Bethnal Green in 1743, becoming part of the Metropolis in 1855 and the County of London in 1889. The parish became a metropolitan borough in 1900 and the population peaked in 1901, entering a period of steady decline which lasted until 1981. The economic history of Bethnal Green is characterised by a shift away from agricultural provision for the City of London to market gardening, weaving and light industry, which has now all but disappeared. The quality of the built environment had deteriorated by the turn of the 20th century and was radically reformed by the aerial bombardment of World War II and the subsequent social housing developments. 173 people were killed at a single incident at Bethnal Green tube station in 1943. The Stairway to Heaven Memorial Trust was set up a few years ago to raise money for a long overdue memorial which is to be erected in Barmy Park the other side of the railings from where the disaster happened. This memorial will, hopefully, get built in 2011/12, funds permitting. Bethnal Green has formed part of Greater London since 1965.