Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 514,414 as of 2013. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.55 million. Manchester is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority is Manchester City Council.
The recorded history of Manchester began with the civilian settlement associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium or Mancunium, which was established in about AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. It was historically a part of Lancashire, although areas of Cheshire south of the River Mersey were incorporated in the 20th century. Throughout the Middle Ages Manchester remained a manorial township but began to expand "at an astonishing rate" around the turn of the 19th century. Manchester's unplanned urbanisation was brought on by a boom in textile manufacture during the Industrial Revolution, and resulted in it becoming the world's first industrialised city.
Manchester achieved city status in 1853. The Manchester Ship Canal opened in 1894, creating the Port of Manchester and linking the city to sea, 36 miles (58 km) to the west. Its fortunes declined after the Second World War, owing to deindustrialisation, but the IRA bombing in 1996 led to extensive investment and regeneration.
In 2014, the Globalization and World Cities Research Network ranked Manchester as a beta world city, the highest-ranked British city apart from London. Manchester is the third-most visited city in the UK. It is notable for its architecture, culture, musical exports, media links, scientific and engineering output, social impact, sports clubs and transport connections. Manchester Liverpool Road railway station was the world's first inter-city passenger railway station and in the city scientists first split the atom and developed the stored-program computer.
At 53°28′0″N 2°14′0″W, 160 miles (260 km) northwest of London, Manchester lies in a bowl-shaped land area bordered to the north and east by the Pennines, a mountain chain that runs the length of northern England, and to the south by the Cheshire Plain. Manchester is 35.0 miles (56.3 km) north-east of Liverpool and 35.0 miles (56.3 km) north-west of Sheffield, making the city the halfway point between the two. The city centre is on the east bank of the River Irwell, near its confluences with the Rivers Medlock and Irk, and is relatively low-lying, being between 35 to 42 metres (115 to 138 feet) above sea level. The River Mersey flows through the south of Manchester. Much of the inner city, especially in the south, is flat, offering extensive views from many highrise buildings in the city of the foothills and moors of the Pennines, which can often be capped with snow in the winter months. Manchester's geographic features were highly influential in its early development as the world's first industrial city. These features are its climate, its proximity to a seaport at Liverpool, the availability of water power from its rivers, and its nearby coal reserves.
The name Manchester, though officially applied only to the metropolitan district within Greater Manchester, has been applied to other, wider divisions of land, particularly across much of the Greater Manchester county and urban area. The "Manchester City Zone", "Manchester post town" and the "Manchester Congestion Charge" are all examples of this.
For purposes of the Office for National Statistics, Manchester forms the most populous settlement within the Greater Manchester Urban Area, the United Kingdom's third-largest conurbation. There is a mixture of high-density urban and suburban locations in Manchester. The largest open space in the city, at around 260 hectares (642 acres), is Heaton Park. Manchester is contiguous on all sides with several large settlements, except for a small section along its southern boundary with Cheshire. The M60 and M56 motorways pass through the south of Manchester, through Northenden and Wythenshawe respectively. Heavy rail lines enter the city from all directions, the principal destination being Manchester Piccadilly station.
Manchester has a thriving theatre, opera and dance scene, and is home to a number of large performance venues, including the Manchester Opera House, which feature large-scale touring shows and West End productions; the Palace Theatre; and the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester's former cotton exchange, the largest theatre in the round space in the UK.
Smaller performance spaces include the Contact Theatre and Z-arts in Hulme. The Dancehouse on Oxford Road is dedicated to dance productions. In 2014, HOME, a new custom built arts complex opened in the City. Housing two theatre spaces, five cinemas and an art exhibition space, it replaced the Cornerhouse and The Library Theatre.
Since 2007 the city has hosted the Manchester International Festival, a biennial international arts festival with a specific focus on original new work, which has included major new commissions by artists including Bjork. In Chancellor George Osborne's 2014 autumn statement he announced a £78 million grant to fund a new "large-scale, ultra-flexible arts space" for the city. Subsequently, the council stated that they had managed to secure a further £32 million from "a variety of sources", The £110 million venue was confirmed in July 2016. 13–14 The theatre, to be called The Factory, after Manchester's Factory Records, will provide a permanent home for the Manchester International Festival, it is due to open at the end of 2019.
Manchester's museums celebrate Manchester's Roman history, rich industrial heritage and its role in the Industrial Revolution, the textile industry, the Trade Union movement, women's suffrage and football. A reconstructed part of the Roman fort of Mamucium is open to the public in Castlefield. The Museum of Science and Industry, housed in the former Liverpool Road railway station, has a large collection of steam locomotives, industrial machinery, aircraft and a replica of the world's first stored computer program (known as The Baby). The Museum of Transport displays a collection of historic buses and trams. Trafford Park in the neighbouring borough of Trafford is home to Imperial War Museum North. The Manchester Museum opened to the public in the 1880s, has notable Egyptology and natural history collections. The Museum of Science and Industry. The municipally owned Manchester Art Gallery on Mosley Street houses a permanent collection of European painting, and has one of Britain's most significant collections of Pre-Raphaelite paintings.
In the south of the city, the Whitworth Art Gallery displays modern art, sculpture and textiles and was recently voted Museum of the Year in 2015. Other exhibition spaces and museums in Manchester include Islington Mill in Salford, the National Football Museum at Urbis, Castlefield Gallery, the Manchester Costume Gallery at Platt Fields Park, the People's History Museum and the Manchester Jewish Museum.
The works of Stretford-born painter L. S. Lowry, known for his "matchstick" paintings of industrial Manchester and Salford, can be seen in both the city and Whitworth Manchester galleries, and at the Lowry art centre in Salford Quays (in the neighbouring borough of Salford) devotes a large permanent exhibition to his works.
The night-time economy of Manchester has expanded significantly since about 1993, with investment from breweries in bars, public houses and clubs, along with active support from the local authorities. The more than 500 licensed premises in the city centre have a capacity to deal with more than 250,000 visitors, with 110–130,000 people visiting on a typical weekend night. The night-time economy has a value of about £100 million and supports 12,000 jobs.
The Madchester scene of the 1980s, from which groups including New Order, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, the Happy Mondays, Inspiral Carpets, 808 State, James and The Charlatans emerged, was based on clubs such as the world-famous The Haçienda. The period was the subject of the film 24 Hour Party People. Many of the big clubs suffered problems with organised crime at that time; Haslam describes one where staff were so completely intimidated that free admission and drinks were demanded (and given) and drugs were openly dealt. Following a series of drug-related violent incidents, The Hacienda closed in 1998. In 1988, Manchester was often referred to as Madchester for its rave scene. Owned by Tony Wilson's Factory Records, it was given the catalogue number FAC51 and official club name, FAC51 The Hacienda. Known for developing many talented 80s influential acts, it also influenced the graphic design industry via Factory artists such as Peter Saville (PSA), Octavo (8vo), Central Design Station, etc. The memorabilia from this club holds a high value among collectors and fans of these artists and the club. Peter Saville was most notable for his minimalistic influence that still affects contemporary graphic design everywhere.