Portsmouth's nickname Pompey is thought to have derived from shipping entering Portsmouth harbour making an entry in their logs as Pom. P. in reference to Portsmouth Point.
The naval base at Portsmouth is still an important dockyard and base for the Royal Marine Commandos and the Royal Navy whose Headquarters are located there. The world's initial mass production line was at the Portsmouth Block Mills, established in 1802 by Marc Islambard Brunel, to mass produce pulley blocks for rigging on the Royal Navy's ships.
City status was given to Portsmouth in 1926. This was based on Portsmouth being the "First naval port of the kingdom". Two years later the city received lord mayoralty. Portsmouth’s Gunwharf Quays houses restaurants, fashion shops and a cinema; and regular French markets along with a yearly Christmas market are held at the Historic Dockyard. Large shopping areas include Ocean Retail Park and the Bridge Centre an 11,043 square metre shopping centre built in 1988.
In 2005 The Spinnaker Tower was finished at Gunwharf Quays. The tower is 170 m (560 ft) tall and features viewing decks at sea level, 100 m (330 ft), 105 m (344 ft) and 110 m (360 ft). Portsmouth’s tourist attractions include the birthplace of Charles Dickens, the Blue Reef Aquarium, Cumberland House, The Royal Marines Museum and Southsea Castle. Southsea's seafront is also home to Clarence Pier Amusement Park.
Palmeston Road, Albert Road, Gunwharf Quays and Guildhall Walk are all main clubbing places in Southsea; Portsmouth. Together with the attractions in Portsmouth include the remaining Henry VIII's flagship, HMS Victory, HMS Warrior (first iron-clad warship in Britain), the Mary Rose (hoisted in 1982 from the seabed) and the Royal Navy Museum in the dockyard and the D-Day museum.
Portsmouth hosts yearly remembrances of the D-Day landings to which veterans from the Allied nations travel to attend. The then US president, Bill Clinton, looked in on Portsmouth for the 50th D-Day anniversary.
Avant-garde drama and contemporary and classical music are specialities at the New Theatre Royal in Guildhall Walk and the latest developed Kings Theatre in Southsea's Albert Road holds a growing amount of national tours and amateur musicals. Portsmouth has three established music venues: The Wedgewood Rooms, The Pyramids and The Guildhall. For a few years the Guildhall has hosted a range of symphony concerts by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. Portsmouth played host to a huge international string quartet contest between 1979 and 1991. Portsmouth also runs its own series of concerts encompassing a range of music at the Bandstand in Southsea Common.
In the last weekend of November each year the Historic Dockyard hosts the Victorian Festival of Christmas, which is the largest event of its kind in the UK. Fort Purbrook, the Royal Armouries museum and Fort Widley are activity centres now residing at Fort Nelson. The seafront defences up to the Round Tower of Southsea Castle are open to the public as well as a small museum.
In Portsmouth city centre, the Guildhall Square Cenotaph displays the names of the deceased, and is guarded by stone sculptures of machine gunners carved by the sculptor Charles Sergeant Jagger.
Portsmouth is also home to the Genesis Expo, the UK's first creationist museum.
There are two cathedrals in Portsmouth; the Anglican cathedral of St Thomas, in Old Portsmouth and the Roman Catholic cathedral of St John the Evangelist, in Edinburgh Road, Portsea. Well-known people who are from Portsmouth or who have lived in the city include: Rudyard Kipling, Charles Dickens and Sherlock Holmes Author Arthur Conan Doyle.