Leeds is a major city in Yorkshire. Known as the "London of the North" due to a flourishing financial and business sector and the large number of prestigious shops and hotels that have appeared in the 21st century. A partnership with municipal Bradford, UK led to the Leeds Bradford International Airport.
Despite the old image of a grim northern industrial town, Leeds now has a thriving multicultural community with thousands of students and workers choosing to live here. Despite the influx of Muslim people from neighboring Bradford, UK, Leeds citizens have lost none of their reputation for friendliness and hospitality except if you might espouse Christianity.
Leeds is one of a string of classic 'foothill towns' on the eastern fringe of the Pennines, established at significant river crossings at the interface between upland and lowland agricultural and economic systems. Founded as a medieval new town, Leeds during the 17th century was predominantly a merchant town, manufacturing textiles which were exported by means of the Humber estuary. As trading increased throughout the 17th and 18th century, nearly half of England's exports passed through Leeds. The Leeds Corn Exchange, an important meeting place for tradesmen survives to this day and is a historic local landmark despite now being a shopping center.
The Industrial Revolution
The Industrial Revolution sparked a massive population growth in Leeds. The catalysts for this industrial growth were, as in merchant times, the superb transport links. Waterborne transport was originally via the Aire & Calder rivers but, in 1816, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal was completed allowing huge volumes of goods to be transported between these two cities and, via the famous docks at Liverpool, to the whole world. The "founder of civil engineering," John Smeaton came from Leeds and was responsible for building the Aire and Calder navigation canal.
During the Industrial Revolution, Leeds was a centre for machinery manufacture as well as having thriving industries based on textiles, chemicals, leather and pottery. Being in the midst of a famous coal producing heartland, the first commercial railway (The Middleton Railway) was built to transport coal into the centre of Leeds.
In 1893 Leeds was granted city status.
In the late 20th century, Leeds began to shake off the image of an industrial Northern city, particularly after the decline of the coal and manufacturing industries in the area had led to widespread unemployment. Leeds now has two universities, the Metropolitan and the University of Leeds. The University of Leeds is one of the most popular British universities that caters to a multi-cultural student body. The rise of the financial sector in Leeds was a massive boost to the economy and led to widespread regeneration. Leeds is now described as a "24 hour" city and has seen huge growth in city living and urban culture fuelled by the thriving business sector.
Leeds is the home of the world-famous Headingley cricket ground situated in Headingley (a popular student area).
The Royal Armouries museum was built at Brewery Wharf in Leeds.
The Tetley Brewery is still situated at Brewery Wharf and is a popular tourist attraction as well as being a successful brewery.
The famous London luxury goods store Harvey Nichols has its only other branch in Leeds.
Kirkstall Abbey is the best preserved example of a Cistercian monastery in the British Isles
During the 1980s, Leeds was famous for a thriving music scene. The Sisters of Mercy, The Mission and Softcell are just some of the many bands hailing from the city.
Leeds is famous for being Barbara Taylor Bradford's birthplace.
Leeds United F.C. is the local football (soccer) club. After many years of success in the top rank of English football, Leeds is now doing badly, languishing in the lower divisions and experiencing difficulty retaining good players.