Manchester has a wide variety of buildings mainly from Victorian architecture through to modern. Much of the architecture in the city harks back to its former days as a global centre for the cotton trade. Many warehouses have now been converted for other uses but the external appearance remains mostly unchanged so the city maintains much of its original character.
Manchester also has a number of Skyscrapers. Most were built during the sixties and seventies. However, in the last few years there has been a renewed interest in building Skyscrapers in Manchester. Numerous residential and office blocks are under construction or have recently been built in the city centre. Beetham Tower is currently under construction. When completed it will be the tallest building in the UK outside London. However, this status may be short lived, an even taller building is proposed behind Manchester Piccadilly Station.
The original Manchester was an old town which has been inhabited since Roman times, when General Julius Agricola built a fort just north of the site of present day city. Though it was not until the 18th century that this little town sprang into the forefront of world attention, and not until the mid-19th century that it became a city.
During the Industrial Revolution Manchester became the hub of a wide network of innumerable townships which serviced its massive cotton industry. Surrounding towns sent their woven and spun produce to the Exchange in Manchester and from there to the world via the Manchester Ship Canal, and received raw materials which were distributed out from the city and its well established system of canals and railways.
The City of Manchester and innumerable small satellite towns and villages surrounding it saw the rapid growth of factories manufacturing merchandise for cotton weaving and spinning, dyeing, and all parts of the textile industry. Manchester was nicknamed "Cottonopolis" where 'King Cotton' ruled. It held onto its reputation as the prime source of world textiles until its decline in the 1950s, when cheaper foreign imports took over.
In the 1970s, Greater Manchester was born - a still controversial grouping of 8 towns and 2 cities. The county still produces more than half of Britain's manufactured goods and consumables. Greater Manchester is a big place. While 2.6 million people live within its actual boundaries, over 7 million others live in the wider region, making it second only to London in Great Britain. For 11 million people living within 50 miles of the City of Manchester, it is the place where they come to work, or to shop or to visit the many attractions and entertainments which only a large dynamic city such as this could hope to offer.