Home to Premier League teams, Manchester City FC and Manchester United FC, Manchester has one of the country’s largest urban economies and is the third most popular city for tourists after London and Edinburgh, making it, outside London, the most popular in England.
The site of the world’s first railway station, where the first stored-program computer was developed and the atom was first split by scientists was in Manchester. And it’s now home to two universities, one of which is the biggest single site institution of higher education in the UK.
There are various theories surrounding the origin of Manchester’s name, Ancient Roman, Welsh and Celtic being the most common and therefore likely.
During the Industrial Revolution, the majority of cotton spinning took place in south Lancashire and north Cheshire making Manchester, for a time the most productive centre of cotton processing and becoming the world’s largest market place for cotton goods. The term ‘manchester’ is still used for household linen in Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.
Manchester grew at an inexplicable rate at the turn of the 19th century as part of unplanned urbanisation brought on by the Industrial Revolution, developing a wide range of industries meaning that by 1835 Manchester was the greatest industrial city in the whole world.
The architecture throughout Manchester displays a variety of styles ranging from contemporary to Victorian, the wide use of red brick across this city characterises it. Much of Manchester’s architecture can be back tracked to its days of being the world’s centre for cotton production; there are numerous cotton mills just outside of the city centre. Many of these have been redeveloped and are now apartment buildings and office space but some have been left untouched since their closure. The Town Hall, which was built in the Gothic revival style, is considered one of the most important Victorian buildings in the UK, this sits in a city with a number of skyscrapers built during the 60s and70s. The tallest skyscraper in Manchester was the Beetham Tower, built in 2006, which is home to apartments, a restaurant and a hotel, until in 2008 construction of Piccadilly Tower began behind Manchester Piccadilly Train Station which is now the tallest building in the UK outside London.
Manchester was the first city in the UK to get a modern light rail tram system in 1992 when the Manchester Metrolink was launched. The current system is mostly run on the commuter rail lines which have been converted for light rail use and crosses the city centre over ground on tram tracks.
Well known for its musical connections and scene, Manchester has been credited as the main regional driving force behind indie bands of the80s including The Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, James and Happy Mondays. Other bands that have emerged from the music scene in Manchester (aka Madchester at the point at which the Hacienda made its name) include The Smiths, the Buzzcocks, The Fall, Joy Division, Oasis and The Chemical Brother who were both actually born in southern England but formed the band in Manchester.
Manchester’s main venue for live pop music is the Manchester Arena, seating over 21,000 and the largest arena of its type in Europe. The Manchester Arena has been voted International Venue of the Year and is the busiest indoor arena in the world, having more concert goers than Madison Square Garden in New York and the O2 Arena in London.
The City of Manchester Stadium, currently known as the Etihad Stadium for sponsorship purposes, the National Squash Centre and the Manchester Aquatics Centre were built for the 2002 Commonwealth Games. Having competed twice to host the Olympic games Manchester has been beaten by Altanta and Sydney, building the Manchester Velodrome was part of these bids.