The first occupants of Sunderland included Stone Age hunter-gatherers and old objects from this era have been recovered, along with microliths found throughout excavations at St Peter's Church, Monkwearmouth.
Sunderland was the location of a car factory in 1986 owned by Nissan the Japanese producer - the first European factory to be built by a Japanese carmaker. It had previously traded mainly on being a port for coal and salt, in 1992 Sunderland was given city status.
For roughly 1,500 years Sunderland has been making glass. The opening of the National Glass Centre provides international glass manufacturers with functional facilities and an outlet to show their work.
Once famously praised as the "Largest Shipbuilding Town in the World", ships were built on the Wear from at least 1346 onward and by the mid-eighteenth century Sunderland became one of the leading shipbuilding towns in the country. One famous vessel was the Torrens and was one of the most successful ships ever constructed, it was one of the quickest, and for many years was the favourite passenger ship to Adelaide.
In 2008 the Sunderland Aquatic Centre opened alongside to the Stadium of Light, housing the solitary Olympic-size swimming pool between Leeds and Edinburgh. Sunniside Gardens were remodeled and a number of new cafes,bars and restaurants were opened. Modern residential flats were developed, including the Echo 24 building. The Holmeside Triangle is an area next to the Park Lane transport interchange and designs for the ground have included a large-scale retail space, public meeting spaces, cafes, restaurants, bars, and a 33 storey Skyscraper called the Spirit of Sunderland, which would have been the most statuesque building in North East England.
Sunderland station was opened in 1879 but was fully improved to serve football clubs and officials from countries that were drawn to play at Roker Park during England's hosting of the 1966 World Cup.
Lewis Carroll wrote most of Jabberwocky at Whitburn in Sunderland together with "The Walrus and the Carpenter". Some parts of Sunderland are also broadly believed to be the inspiration for his Alice in Wonderland fables, such as Backhouse Park and Hylton Castle. There is a statue to Carroll in Whitburn library.
Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens and The Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art on Fawcett Street present installations and exhibitions from up-and-coming and established artists alike, with the latter possessing an enormous collection of LS Lowry.
Sunderland hosted the BBC Radio 1's Big Weekend concert in 2005 at Herrington Country Park. The Sunderland Stadium of Light, home to Sunderland AFC, is noted as a big stadium concert place, having hosted world tours by Oasis, Kings of Leon, P!nk and Take That. A city centre nightspot named the Independent satisfies underground music addicts.
From 2009, Sunderland: Live in the City has presented a sequence of free and ticketed live music events round venues in the city centre. Sunderland also hosts the yearly Split Music Festival at Ashbrooke Cricket Club which was initially celebrated in October 2009 and also occurred in 2010.
The Empire Theatre opened in 1907 and is the largest theatre in the North East. It is operated by international entertainment assemble Live Nation and is infamous for playing host to the last act of British comedian actor Sid James who died on stage in 1976 of a heart attack.
Taking place along the sea front at Roker and Seaburn is the Sunderland International Airshow, the biggest free airshow in Europe. Every year the city presents a big Remembrance Day memorial service, the biggest in the UK outside of London in 2006. Attractions notable in Sunderland include the beaches of Roker and Seaburn and the 14th century Hylton Castle. Sunderland Museum and Winter Gardens was the initial municipally funded museum in England outside London. Contained within The City Library Arts Centre is the Northern Gallery for Contemporary Art.
The City of Sunderland has been awarded respected titles and achieved many admired awards by the Britain in Bloom collective in 1993, 1997 and 2000. Sunderland was shortlisted as one of the top seven "intelligent cities" in the world for the appliance of Information Technology, in both 2004 and 2005.