Following the Local Government Act 1888, Hull became a county borough, a local government district independent of the East Riding of Yorkshire.
In the years before the First World War, Hull's success grew, and in 1897, the city was given city status. However, Hull had to bear a time of post-industrial descend during the Second World War due to suffering from intense damage, during which the city gained unfavourable results on measures of policing, social deprivation and education. Hull had 95% of its houses affected or destroyed, making it the most badly bombed British city or town, aside from London, during World War II.
In Hull the central export was wool from the abbey. Other industries in Hull include the importing of wine, that helped the city to blossom, oilseed crushing and The River Hull was also ideal for shipping. However, it was Whaling that had a major role in the town's fortunes until the mid-19th century.
During the 1970s the fishing industry declined due to the introduction of Roll-on Roll-off ferry services to Europe. However with the handling of 13 million tonnes of cargo each year, Hull is still a busy port and has diversified. Over a million passengers now ride the ferries every year. Freight handling at the port is expected to rise following Network Rail’s control of a £14.5 million investment in the rail link, which was completed in mid-2008.
The city's industry is focused on the chemical and health care sectors. Several well-known British companies including BP, Smith & Nephew, Seven Seas, and Reckitt Benckiser have facilities in Hull.
Main tourist attractions in Hull include the historic Old Town, where merchant's houses such as Blaydes House, still exists. Also in Hull is The Museum Quarter, the Marina, where the annual Hull Jazz Festival takes place for a week at the beginning of August and the city landmark and world's only submarium; The Deep.
The three main shopping centres in Hull are St. Stephen's, Princes Quay and the Prospect Centre, a small and older shopping centre on Prospect Street. Many "retail parks" and suburban shopping centres are also present including the North Point Shopping Centre at Bransholme, St Andrews Quay on the Humber bank, as well as Great Gutter lane (Willerby), Mount Pleasant (Holderness Road), Priory Park (near Hessle) and Kingswood retail park (Kingswood).
Hull has a diverse range of architecture and this is complemented by parks, squares and a number of statues and modern sculptures. There have been many additions to Hull. Overseeing the Humber is the new £165 million Humber Quays development, which has now earned World Trade Centre status. It adds a new high-quality office space to Hull's waterfront. 51 new apartments and two office buildings have been integrated into Phase 1 of the project. Phase 2 will include a restaurant, more office space and a new 200 bedroom 4 star hotel.
A £100 million residential development plan, named Boom, was scheduled for the east bank of the River Hull in the early 2000s. This new development incorporates shops, 600 plus luxury riverside apartments, health and education facilities, bistro cafes, boutiques and a 120 bed luxury hotel. The development of the city centre started in September 2009 with the construction of a swing footbridge across the River Hull, described as an "iconic" addition to Hull's skyline.
In the late 2000s the Hepworth arcade and the grade II listed, 50-stall indoor Edwardian Trinity Market were restored and re-modernised.
Hull's Museum Quarter on the High Street in the core of the Old Town, consists of Wilberforce House, the Arctic Corsair, the Hull and East Riding Museum (which contains the Hasholme Logboat - Britain's largest surviving prehistoric log boat) and the Streetlife Museum of Transport. Other visitor attractions and museums in Hull include the Yorkshire Water Museum, the Ferens Art Gallery, the Spurn Lightship and the Maritime Museum in Victoria Square. The newly re-modernised Seven Seas Fish Trail incorporates a meander through old and new areas of the city with pavements engraved with a broad variation of sea life to celebrate the fishing heritage in Hull.
Modern art sculptures located in Hull include ‘Voyage’, a figure gazing out to the Humber. It has a twin in Iceland. The 'Tower of Light' is an installation and fountain on the corner of Spring Bank outside Britannia House and The Deep has a shark sculpture just outside. ‘Larkin with Toads’ was a public art event in 2010 in the centre of Hull and it comprised of 40 giant toads each decorated and displayed as part of the Larkin 25 festival centrepiece. The new statue of Philip Larkin can now be seen in Hull's Paragon Interchange.
The city has three main theatres. The biggest venue to feature opera, drama, pantomime, children's shows, musicals and ballet is the Hull New Theatre which first opened in 1939. Established in 1971, the Hull Truck Theatre regularly has plays and is a smaller independent theatre. The old complex on Spring Street was replaced in 2009 by the St. Stephen's Hull development, a new £14.5 million 440 seat venue. Performance, dance and education in musical theatre are provided at the Northern Theatre School and The Northern Academy of Performing Arts. Established in 1975 and located in the city is The Northern Theatre Company, they offer youth training in acting.
Hull has been described as "the most poetic city in England" by Australian author Peter Porter and the city has beguiled many poets. Philip Larkin cast many of his poems in Hull; these include "Here", "The Whitsun Weddings" and "Toads". David Wheatley, Caitriona O'Reilly and Maggie Hanman are all contemporary poets associated with Hull.
Hull Sinfonietta resides at Hull, and in the Humber region, is the biggest professional chamber ensemble. Also, one of the oldest amateur orchestras in the country is the Hull Philharmonic Orchestra, previously established in 1952. The Hull Choral Union and the Hull Bach Choir - specialise in 17th and 18th century choral music performances. Also based in Hull is the Arterian Singers, the two Gilbert & Sullivan Societies, the Hull Savoyards and the Dagger Lane Operatic Society and The Hull Male Voice Choir. Hull City Hall annually plays host to important British and European symphony Orchestras with its 'International Masters' orchestral concert season.
Educational institutes in Hull include The University of Hull, established in 1927. It provides the research facilities that greatly enhance the health care sector through the Hull York Medical School partnerships and the Institute of Woundcare. It received its Royal Charter in 1954 and is based in Kingston upon Hull. The Hull School of Art, founded in 1861, is acclaimed nationally and internationally for its superiority as a specialist creative centre for higher education.
Music is prominent in Hull with 1980s groups such as the Red Guitars, the Housemartins and Everything but the Girl finding mainstream success. In the mid 90s, Pork Recordings, the Hull record label, was established. A popular local venue is the Adelphi, known for playing live and alternative music in the city, having hosted such bands as the Stone Roses, Radiohead, Green Day, and Oasis in its history. Springhead is also known nationally as Live Music Pub of the Year catering to a multitude of bands. There are many festivals held every year in Hull. The Humber Mouth literature festival is held yearly and the 2010 season featured writers such as Roy Hattersley, Andrew Motion and Roger McGough.
It was in the year 2007 that both the first Hull Comedy Festival was held and The Hull Metalfest started in the Welly Club featuring huge bands from Canada, the U.S and Italy. As of 2008 Hull has held Freedom Festival; an annual free arts and live music event that honours freedom in all its sorts. Hull Fair takes place in early October on an area opposite to the KC Stadium and is one of the biggest travelling funfairs in Europe. The Hull Global Food Festival held its third annual event in the city's Queen Victoria Square for three days in 2009.
Hull's KC Stadium is occupied at West Park and hosts Hull’s professional football team Hull City A.F.C. There is a 'Victorian Conservatory' that has reptiles, birds and a lake in Pearson Park. An array of animals and birds can be found at East Park along with a huge boating lake. They are registered Grade II listed sites by English Heritage.
The large Queen's Gardens parkland sits at the heart of the city centre. This was initially built as formal ornamental gardens used to fill in the former Queen's Dock. It is now used for festivals and concerts on its landscaped grassy land, but still possesses a large ornamental flower circus and fountain at its western end. Also located there is the Mick Ronson Memorial Stage.
The streets of Hull's suburban areas are lined with large numbers of trees, especially the Avenues area around Princes Avenue and in the West Boulevard. Many of the aged trees in the Avenues district have been chopped down in recent years with the stumps carved into a variety of 'living sculptures'. Following the redesign of the street layout, many more cafes and bars have been started in the Newland Avenue and Prince's Avenue areas.
The company KC, once known as Kingston Communications, a subsidiary of KCOM Group, is an independent telephone network company in Hull, being the only one with such. Throughout the city unique cream telephone boxes can be found. KC manufactures its own 'White Pages' telephone directory for Hull and the greater KC area. The equivalent to Yellow Pages is KC's business directory, Colour Pages. The company was formed in 1902 as a municipal department by the City Council and is an early model of municipal enterprise. It is now privatised but it is still the UK's sole locally working telephone company. KC was one of the original telecoms operators in Europe to offer ADSL to business users, and the first in the world to run an interactive television service using ADSL, known as Kingston Interactive TV (KiT). Telephone House, on Carr Lane, the firm's 1960s-built HQ, in stark modernist style, is a local landmark.