Throughout the Industrial Revolution Plymouth grew as a major shipping port, handling imports and passengers from the Americas, while Devonport developed as a major Royal Naval dockyard and shipbuilding town. Plymouth's economy remains heavily motivated by shipbuilding, but has evolved into a more service-based economy since the 1990s. HMNB Devonport is the biggest operative naval base in Western Europe. Since 1973, Plymouth has been home to the Plymouth Gin Distillery, producing gin which was exported around the world by the Royal Navy. Devonport Dockyard is the UK's only naval base that refits nuclear submarines.
In Plymouth the Pannier Market, built in 1959, is a grade II listed building - the word pannier means "basket" in French, and so the Pannier Market literally translated is the "basket market". Plymouth is rated as top five in terms of retail floor space in the South West.
The Tinside Pool became a grade II listed building in 1998 before being restored to its 1930s look. The "Vision for Plymouth" is the urban redevelopment programme being initiated by Plymouth Council. The purpose is to increase the population to 300,000, construct 33,000 homes and develop a cruise terminal, shopping centres and a boulevard.
Plymouth railway station was opened in 1877, 62 years after Union Street was constructed which was the hub of the historical culture in Plymouth. It became known as the servicemen's playground, as it was where sailors from the Royal Navy would seek entertainment of all kinds. Charlie Chaplin, a performer at the Palace Theatre, and other performers were attracted by the 30 pubs that existed during the 1930's. It now exists as the late-night centre of the Plymouth's entertainment area.
Plymouth is home to 28 parks with an average size of 45,638 square metres. Other green areas include Freedom Fields Park, Devonport Park, Victoria Park, the Hoe and the largest being Central Park. It is also home to the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom (MBA) which conducts research in all areas of the marine sciences.
The city's main theatres are the Theatre Royal, Drum Theatre and The TR2. Plymouth uses The Plymouth Pavilions for many things, such as, stand-up comedy, staging music concerts and basketball matches. The Plymouth City Museum and Art Gallery has six galleries. Constructed on wasteland at Cattedown, TR2, is the production and education centre of The Theatre Royal. In 2003 it was runner-up for the RIBA Stirling Prize for Architecture.
Plymouth hosts a multitude of outdoor events and festivals including the annual British Firework Championships in August, which attracts tens of thousands of people across the waterfront. In August 2006 the world record for the most amount of simultaneous fireworks was surpassed, by Roy Lowry of the University of Plymouth, over Plymouth Sound.
Plymouth is an important centre for watersports, especially scuba diving and sailing. The Port of Plymouth Regatta is one of the oldest regattas in the world, and has been held regularly since 1823.
There are 20 war memorials in Plymouth, nine of them situated on The Hoe with the National Armada memorial and Plymouth Naval Memorial. Crownhill Fort lies on the northern borders of the city and is a good example of a renewed "Palmerston's Folly" it is open to the public and belongs to the Landmark Trust.