The minute you set foot in Manchester it becomes clear that as much as anywhere in the country, this is a city that truly lives and breathes. Few places have such a strong sense of identity, and fewer still could combine that with the energy and creativity that characterises the rainy city. But then contrast is what it’s all about here.
The current wealth of urban living that so defines 21st century Manchester was born of the industrial revolution - the dramatic loft spaces reclaiming and restoring the old cotton mills and providing a new take on their old glory – continues to grow and evolve. No matter what space, style or size of city-centre living you need, here you will find an answer.
But then to the uninitiated this may come as a surprise as traditionally Manchester has been viewed as forever in the shadow of the capital, but it is indicative of how quickly it has grown that the people who make the city what it is now view New York and Barcelona as their models and peers. So to those who now call the city home this really isn’t a surprise at all. Your average Mancunian knows what home is, and to be rightly proud of it.
The most common preconceptions of Manchester are of it’s football and it’s music. Old Trafford and the Hacienda, Alex Ferguson and Anthony Wilson, Ruud and the Stone Roses. Is that all we can offer? No, but it’s a hell of a way to start.
Any city, anywhere in the world, would envy Manchester’s musical heritage. In The Smiths, Joy Division, New Order, The Stone Roses and Oasis, we have some of the most important and influential bands in British music born right on our doorstep, and in Doves possibly the best band in Britain today. More importantly still, there are a wealth of music venues in the city, from globe-straddling mega stars at the MEN Arena to world music at Band On The Wall, catering for every conceivable taste and genre so that the beating heart of the city is there for all to see.
And it’s not all about six-strings you know. The Hacienda brought the sounds of house and techno to these shores first and did them best, providing a focal point for the house explosion and sealing its own place in musical history. But then that’s past glory, what of today? Well, every conceivable type of musical adventure is available somewhere in the city. If it’s jazz you want, go to Matt and Phred’s, Kitsch? Then go to the Tiger Lounge. The great thing about clubbing in Manchester is that once you find somewhere you like, you’re guaranteed a warm welcome, but there’s always somewhere new and different to try. Oldham Street’s Dry Bar was the institution that invented bar culture, so obviously Mancunians know what constitutes the best.
So what of the other common belief? Well, the city’s sporting heritage stretches way beyond the might of United and City. Rugby, cricket, basketball, athletics, boxing and almost anything else you can think of are represented at the highest standard. There’s a good reason that the Commonwealth games was held here you know……
Yet beyond the stereotype lies an even more impressive aspect. Manchester’s creativity and heritage is obvious simply by looking at the buildings. The aforementioned industrial renovations, 60’s design that apes the Soviet block and architectural classics all provide a map of how the city has grown, spelled out in its bricks and mortar. The history is everywhere, mapped out for all to see.
And even more importantly there is a diverse heart that beats alongside the creative mind. The ethnic and cultural mix is unparalleled, from the twin legends of the gay village and Rusholme’s curry mile to Chinatown and beyond. Manchester’s student population – easily the largest in Europe – adds further spice to the overall mix, as well as providing centres of academic excellence the city can be proud of. You’ll find all walks of life on the streets of Manchester.