Sheffield was officially granted city status in 1893. The city is situated within the valleys of the River Don and its four tributaries, the Loxley, the Porter Brook, the Rivelin, and the Sheaf. 61% of Sheffield's whole area is green space, and a third of the city lies within the Peak District National Park. Sheffield has previously been shortlisted in selection for the UK City of Culture.
Sheffield grew into a small market town in 1296 when a market was established at what is now known as Castle Square. From 1570 to 1584, Mary, Queen of Scots, was imprisoned in Sheffield Castle and Sheffield Manor. As a target for bombing raids, the Sheffield Blitz took place on the 12th and 15th December. More than 660 lives were lost and many buildings.
In 1991 Sheffield hosted the World Student Games, which saw the construction of new sporting facilities such as the Sheffield Arena, Don Valley Stadium, and the Ponds Forge complex. The majority of Sheffield's sporting venues are managed by Sheffield International Venues, including Sheffield Arena, Don Valley Stadium and English Institute of Sport - Sheffield. The council owned museums and galleries are managed by the Sheffield Galleries and Museums Trust along with the Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust.
Whilst there are approximately 1,100 listed buildings in Sheffield it is also estimated to contain over two million trees, Sheffield has more trees per person than any other city in Europe, and according to Sheffield City Council, it is England's greenest city, a claim that was reinforced when it won the 2005 Entente Florale competition. It has 10 public gardens, 78 public parks and over 170 woodlands. Added to the 52.0 square miles of national park and 4.20 square miles of water this means that 61% of the city is greenspace.
There are 6 regions within Sheffield that are designated sites of special scientific interest. Although a city, Sheffield is informally known as "the largest village in England". Local folklore insists that, like Rome, Sheffield was built "on seven hills". In 1740 Benjamin Huntsman invented the crucible technique within his Sheffield based workshop.
Many designeer botiques, high street and department stores are present in Sheffield making it a major retail centre. In 2011 it was announced that Sheffield will become an enterprise zone, which will help small businesses in the region to increase economic growth.
There are two universities within Sheffield, the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University. Every year the two combined bring around 54,000 students to Sheffield. Founded in 1897 as the University College Sheffield, it became the University of Sheffield in 1905. The University is now ranked 40th in the world, 20th in Europe, and 25th in the UK. The university is a member of the Russell Group and has produced five Nobel Prize winners.
Situated above fargate shopping Precinct is The Wheel of Sheffield, the city's very own ferris wheel.
The Human League, Heaven 17, ABC, and the more industrially inclined Cabaret Voltaire are among the well known bands to hail from Sheffield. Sheffield is also the birthplace of Joe Cocker, Pulp, Paul Carrack, Def Leppard, Richard Hawley, The Longpigs, Milburn, Moloko, and Bring Me the Horizon. More recently several indie bands, including Arctic Monkeys, The Long Blondes and Toddla T have emerged from the city as part of what the NME dubbed the New Yorkshire movement. In 1999, the National Centre for Popular Music was opened in the city and later changed to become a live music venue. These include The Grapes, O2 Academy Sheffield, the Crucible Theatre, the Studio Theatre, the University of Sheffield Students Union, the City hall, Redstone bar and Nightclub, The Broadfield hotel, New Barrack Tavern, Corporation, The Cremorne, The Casbah, Dove and Rainbow, the Boardwalk, West Street Live, Leadmill and Harley Hotel.
Grin Up North Sheffield Comedy Festival, the Sensoria Music and Film Festival and the Tramlines Festival are some of the festivals which are held in Sheffield. A number of choirs and orchestras are based in Sheffield. The Lyceum Theatre and the Crucible Theatre are Sheffields two largest theatres, which, when combined with the smaller Studio Theatre complete the largest theatre complex outside of London.
Sheffield's museums are managed by two distinct organisations. Sheffield manages Bishops House, Graves Art Gallery, Millenium Galleries and the Weston Park Museum. The films and plays The Full Monty, Threads, Looks and Smiles, When Saturday Comes, Whatever Happened to Harold Smith, The History Boys and Four Lions are set in the city. The documentary festival Sheffield Doc/Fest has been run annually since 1994 at the Showroom Cinema, and in 2007 Sheffield hosted the Awards of the International Indian Film Academy.