Identified as a ‘City of Sanctuary’ in 2010, Bradford rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international hub of textile manufacture, primarily wool. Becoming the "wool capital of the world", it was one of the initial industrialised settlements and important to the Industrial Revolution.
The area's access to a supply of iron ore, soft water and coal facilitated the growth of Bradford's manufacturing centre, which, as textile manufacture increased, led to an explosion in population and was a stimulus to civic investment.
Blast furnaces were established in the city about 1788 by Hird, Dawson Hardy at Low Moor and iron was worked by the Bowling Iron Company until about 1900. Yorkshire iron was used for hooks, piston rods for locomotives and shackles, colliery cages and other mining tools where stamina was required.
Lister's Mill, no longer used for textile production, is the most splendid of the mills. The chimney can be viewed from most places in Bradford. It has become a beacon of regeneration after a £100 million conversion to apartment blocks by property developer Urban Splash.
There are some fine Victorian buildings in Bradford including the City Hall, the former Wool Exchange and a large Victorian cemetery at Undercliffe. The Midland Hotel and the Victoria Hotel were built to make room for business travellers to the city during the height of the wool trade. St George's Hall dates from 1853 making it the oldest concert hall in Britain and the third oldest in Europe.
Bradford has a multitude of museums including The National Media Museum that celebrates cinema and movies, and is the most visited museum outside London and The Bradford 1 Gallery, located in the city centre, is an art gallery that was opened in October 2007 in a new building in Centenary Square. Bradford Industrial Museum was established in 1974 at Moorside Mills, a spinning mill in Eccleshill.
Developed for Frank Laidler in 1914, The Alhambra theatre was later owned by the Moss Empire Group (Oswald Stoll and Edward Moss) and in 1986 the theatre was modernised.
It was in 1966 that the University of Bradford gained its Royal Charter, but it charts its history to the 1860s when it was established as the Bradford School of Weaving, Design and Building. In both 2009 and 2010 the university was named as the greenest in the UK.
Within the city district there are 37 parks and gardens. One of which, Lister Park, has a boating lake and its grand Edwardian Cartwright Hall houses Bradford’s main art gallery and Mughal Water Gardens was voted Britain's Best Park for 2006. The Bradford Mela, the first and largest of its type outside Asia, was held in Europe in 1988 and remains to be held in Peel Park.
Bradford has a vast array of festivals throughout the year. The National Media Museum hosts the Bradford International Film Festival annually in March and The Bradford Animation Festival is the UK's longest-running animation festival. Bradford was also host to the International Indian Film Festival awards in 2007 and Bradford Festival Choral Society was founded to perform at the inaugural Bradford Musical Festival.
In June 2009 Bradford was designated the world's first UNESCO City of Film for its links to the production and distribution of films, its media and film museum and its "cinematographic legacy". The city was also famously the filming location of The Railway Children in the 1970's.
People born in Bradford include J.B Priestley, David Hockney and Sir William Rothenstein. Other well known people from the area include the professor of forensic medicine and bacteriologist Friederich Wilhelm Eurich who conquered anthrax in the wool trade and the Nobel Prize winner Sir Edward Appleton who discovered the ionosphere. Professor Robert Turner was a pathologist who came to Bradford from Belfast, and pioneered the use of chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer at the Bradford Royal Infirmary.
Heroes known to have found fame in Bradford include the Bradford born air stewardess Barbara Jane Harrison, awarded the George Cross for heroism and Richard Oastler, a social reformer who campaigned against child labour. He is commemorated by a statue in Northgate.
It was in 1899 that William Morrison founded Wm Morrison Supermarkets, initially as an egg and butter merchant in Rawson Market, functioning under the name of Wm Morrison (Provisions) Limited.