The entire circuit of the city’s walls is approximately 3 miles, including a part where walls never were, because the Norman moat of York Castle, also created a lake which acted as a city defence. Because the Crown owned the rights of the fish, the lake was later titled the King's Fishpond. The original Roman name is Eboracum which is thought to be taken from the Brythonic word Eborakon denoting either "field of Eboras" or "place of the yew trees".
As a major centre for the wool trade in the Middle Ages, York became the capital of the northern ecclesiastical province of the Church of England, a role it still holds.
Guy Fawkes, known for being a member of a gang of Roman Catholic restorationists that arranged the Gunpowder Plot, was born and educated in York. More recently, footballer Marco Gabbiadini and football manager Steve McClaren are two of the more famous sportsmen to come from York.
George Hudson was responsible for bringing the railway to York in 1839. The railway was also active in the expansion of Rowntree's Cocoa Works which was established in 1862 by Henry Isaac in York who was joined by his brother Joseph Rowntree in 1869. York is also home to confectionery manufacturer Nestle and to the KitKat and eponymous Yorkie bar chocolate brands.
York’s airfield at Elvington currently only serves private aviation, it was previously the base of RAF Elvington and designs have been drafted to extend the site for a full commercial service or business.
York has a vast amount of snickelways, these are very small streets and footpaths which run through the city. The Shambles is a narrow medieval street, lined with shops, boutiques and tea rooms. York has a variety of museums and historic buildings such as the Yorkshire Museum and its Museum Gardens, JORVIK Viking Centre, the York Art Gallery, the Richard III Museum, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, the medieval house Barley Hall owned by the York Archaeological Trust, Fairfax House, owned by the York Civic Trust and the Treasurer's House owned by the National Trust.
In 1794 the city's first subscription library was launched, but it wasn't until 1893 that the Queen Victoria's jubilee was commemorated with the construction of the first free public library in York. York Minster is the largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe and is situated at the city's centre. York Castle is a compound of constructions ranging from the York Castle Museum 20th century entrance (once a prison) to the medieval Clifford's Tower.
The Theatre Royal, established in 1744, produces an annual pantomime which attracts loyal audiences from around the country to see its veteran star, Berwick Kaler. The Joseph Rowntree Theatre and The Grand Opera House also offer a number of productions. The city is home to the Riding Lights Theatre Company, which as well as operating a hectic national touring department, also operates a busy youth theatre and educational departments. York is also home to a number of amateur dramatic groups. Public drama acts are performed by the Student Societies of the University of York and The Department of Theatre, Film and Television. The York Cycle of Mystery Plays or Pageants is the most complete in England. Originally performed from wagons at various locations around the city, following their resurgence in the middle of the 20th century as part of the quadrennial York City Festival, they were mostly produced in a temporary open-air theatre within the remains of St. Mary's Abbey, utilizing a blend of professional and amateur actors. In 2012 the next cycle is scheduled to take place in St. Mary's Abbey. The National Centre for Early Music now resides at St Margaret's, Walmgate, which hosts concerts, broadcasts, competitions and events through the year, especially during the York Early Music Festival.
Locally, York Ham is a famous product, it is a type of cured ham, which doesn't need any more cooking before consuming. It’s conventionally served with Madeira Sauce. Folklore has it that the oak construction for York Minster provided the sawdust for smoking the ham. Robert Burrow Atkinson's butchery shop, in Blossom Street, is the birthplace of the original "York Ham" and the reason why the premises became famous.
St Helen's Square in the centre of York houses Bettys Cafe Tea Rooms. Bettys creator, Frederick Belmont, made a journey in 1936 on the Queen Mary. He was so impressed by the splendour of the ship that he employed the Queen Marys' craftsmen and designers to turn a broken down furniture shop in York into an elegant cafe in St Helen's Square. A few years after Bettys opened in York war broke out, with thousands of airmen stationed throughout York using the basement 'Bettys Bar' as a popular place to go. 'Bettys Mirror', on which many of them engraved their signatures with a diamond pen, remains on display today as a tribute to them.