It is suggested that the reason Blackpool escaped heavy damage in World War II was that Adolf Hitler had earmarked the town to remain a place of leisure after his planned invasion.
It has the only surviving first-generation tramway in the UK and is one of the oldest electric tramways in the world, dating back to 1885. Blackpool is the only town in the UK to have three piers. Blackpool is believed to attain its name from an ancient drainage channel that ran over a peat bog, expelling discoloured water into the Irish Sea, developing a black pool. The regional dialect for stream was "pul" or "poole", creating "Black poole".
In 1781, visitors that were attracted to Blackpool's 7-mile sandy beach were allowed to use a new constructed private road, built by Thomas Clifton and Sir Henry Hoghton. Stagecoaches started running to Blackpool from Manchester in the same year, and from Halifax in 1782. In the 1840's a railway was constructed making it effortless and cheaper for visitors to get to Blackpool, this caused a vast of settlers, such that in 1876 Blackpool was incorporated as a borough, governed by its own town council and aldermen. The town remains to have more B&B and hotel beds than the whole of Portugal. In 1851 a Board of Health was formed, Gas lighting was popularised in 1852, and piped water in 1864.
The Winter Gardens is a large conference and entertainment venue in the town centre that was opened in 1878. It includes the Pavilion Theatre, Spanish Hall, the Opera House (one of the largest theatres in Europe), and the Arena and Olympia and Empress Ballroom. Stanley Park is a grade II historic park and gardens with golf course, cricket club, sports arena, lake, art deco restaurant, model village and gardens. It was in the Empress Ballroom at the Winter Gardens that The White Stripes’ first official DVD was recorded in 2004. The Empress Ballroom is also known for hosting the Blackpool Dance Festival, a world acclaimed annual ballroom dance championship.
1894 saw the opening of the Blackpool Grand Theatre and Blackpool Tower. Frank Matcham, a Victorian theatre architect designed the theatre. It was the first theatre to use a modern 'cantilever' design to support the tiers to allow better views of the stage from all parts of the auditorium. Blackpool Tower was influenced by the Eiffel Tower in Paris, France. It is 518 feet & 9 inches in height. Beneath the tower is a complex of leisure facilities, entertainment venues and restaurants.
The North Pier is the northernmost of Blackpool's three piers. It includes a small shopping arcade, a small tramway and the North Pier Theatre toward the end of the pier.
The Central Pier - the middle pier, includes a large Ferris wheel, shops and the Sea Life Centre, a large aquarium featuring a walkthrough shark tank, located on the Promenade. Located opposite the Central Pier is the Madame Tussaud's museum which features the models of celebrities, musicians, sports personalities and has a Chamber of Horrors.
A theme park can be found on the South Pier. The world's fastest and tallest complete circuit rollercoaster was the Pepsi Max Big One between 1994 and 1996 at Pleasure Beach Blackpool. The South Beach at Blackpool is the location of the Sandcastle Water Park. It has 18 slides and is the UK's biggest indoor water park, including the largest indoor rollercoaster waterslide and the first indoor 'Sidewinder' in the world.
Other places of interest in Blackpool include The Great Promenade Show, a series of modern artwork installations held along Blackpool's South Promenade. It includes the Blackpool High Tide Organ, an unusual musical monument which uses the movements of the sea to make music.
The Stanley Park Aerodrome airport opened in 1929 and closed in 1947. The hangars from the old airport are still used as the elephant enclosure for the zoo. Blackpool Zoo provides a home over 1,500 animals from all over the world.
Blackpool was famous for having imposed an indefinite ban on the Rolling Stones from performing in the town in 1964 after a riot broke out among the audience who had found their performance was suggestive during their concert at the Empress Ballroom. Forty-four years later in 2008 the ban was lifted.