Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. Its population in 2019 was approximately 498,042, making it the tenth-largest English district by population. Liverpool’s metropolitan area is the fifth-largest in the United Kingdom with a population of 2.24 million.
Liverpool is on the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary and historically lay within the ancient hundred of West Derby in North West England‘s county of Lancashire. It became a borough in 1207, a city in 1880, and a county borough independent of Lancashire in 1889. Its growth as a major port was paralleled by the expansion of the city throughout the Industrial Revolution. Along with general cargo, freight, and raw materials such as coal and cotton, merchants were involved in the slave trade. In the 19th century, Liverpool was a major port of departure for English and Irish emigrants to North America. It was also home to both the Cunard and White Star Lines, and was the port of registry of the ocean liners RMS Titanic, RMS Lusitania, RMS Queen Mary, and RMS Olympic.
In 2019, Liverpool was ranked fifth on the list of the most visited UK cities. It is noted for its culture, architecture, and transport links. The city is closely associated with the arts, especially music; the popularity of the Beatles, who are widely regarded as the most influential musical group in history, cemented the city’s status as a tourist destination. Since then, Liverpool has continued to produce many notable musicians and record labels—musicians from the city have produced 56 No. 1 hit singles, more than any other city in the world. It also has a long-standing reputation as the origin of various actors and actresses, artists, athletes, comedians, journalists, novelists, and poets. The city has the second-highest number of art galleries, national museums, listed buildings, and listed parks in the UK; only the capital, London, has more. The Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City includes the Pier Head, Albert Dock, and William Brown Street. In sports, the city is best known for being the home of Premier League football teams Liverpool FC and Everton FC, with matches between the two being known as the Merseyside derby. The annual Grand National horse race takes place at Aintree Racecourse.
Several areas of Liverpool city centre were granted World Heritage Site status by UNESCO in 2004, and the city’s vast collection of parks and open spaces has been described as the “most important in the country” by England’s Register of Historic Parks and Gardens of Special Historic Interest. Its status as a port city historically attracted a diverse population from a wide range of cultures, primarily Ireland, Norway, and Wales. It is also home to the oldest black community in the UK and the oldest Chinese community in Europe. Natives of Liverpool (and occasionally longtime residents) are formally referred to as “Liverpudlians” but are more often called “Scousers”, a reference to the form of stew made popular by sailors in the city, which also became the most common name for the local accent and dialect. The city celebrated its 800th anniversary in 2007 and was named the 2008 European Capital of Culture, which it shared with the Norwegian city of Stavanger. Its designation as European Capital of Culture resulted in a sharp uptick in the city’s fortunes, as the money gained from the EU was spent on regenerating large parts of the city that had become run down.
The postwar period after the Great War was marked by social unrest, as society grappled with the massive war losses of young men, as well as trying to integrate veterans into the economy. Union organising and strikes took place in numerous locations, including police strikes in London among the Metropolitan Police. Numerous colonial soldiers and sailors from Africa and India, who had served with the UK, settled in Liverpool and other port cities. In June 1919 they were subject to attack by whites in racial riots; residents in the port included Swedish immigrants, and both groups had to compete with native people from Liverpool for jobs and housing.
The Housing Act 1919 resulted in mass council housing being built across Liverpool during the 1920s and 1930s. Thousands of families were relocated from the inner-city to new suburban housing estates, based on the belief that this would improve their standard of living, though this is largely subjective. Numerous private homes were also built during this era. During the Great Depression of the early 1930s, unemployment peaked at around 30% in the city.
Liverpool was the site of Britain’s first provincial airport, operating from 1930. During the Second World War, the critical strategic importance of Liverpool was recognised by both Hitler and Churchill. The city was heavily bombed by the Germans, suffering a blitz second only to London’s. The pivotal Battle of the Atlantic was planned, fought and won from Liverpool.
The construction of suburban public housing expanded after the Second World War. Some of the older inner-city areas were redeveloped for new homes.
In the 1960s Liverpool was the centre of the “Merseybeat” sound, which became synonymous with the Beatles and fellow Liverpudlian rock bands. Influenced by American rhythm and blues and rock music, they also in turn strongly affected American music for years and were internationally popular. The Beatles became internationally known in the early 1960s and performed for years together; they were the most commercially successful and musically influential band in popular history. Their co-founder, singer, and composer John Lennon was killed in New York City in 1980 after the Beatles stopped performing together. Liverpool airport was renamed after him in 2002, the first British airport to be named in honour of an individual.
Previously part of Lancashire, and a county borough from 1889, Liverpool in 1974 became a metropolitan borough within the newly created metropolitan county of Merseyside.
From the mid-1970s onwards, Liverpool’s docks and traditional manufacturing industries declined due to restructuring of shipping and heavy industry, causing massive losses of jobs. The advent of containerisation meant that the city’s docks became largely obsolete, and dock workers were thrown out of jobs. By the early 1980s unemployment rates in Liverpool were among the highest in the UK, standing at 17% by January 1982. This was about half the level of unemployment that had affected the city during the Great Depression 50 years previously.
In the later 20th century, Liverpool’s economy began to recover. Since the mid-1990s the city has enjoyed growth rates higher than the national average.
To celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Elizabeth II in 2002, the conservation charity Plantlife organised a competition to choose county flowers; the sea-holly was Liverpool’s final choice.
Capitalising on the popularity of 1960s rock groups, such as the Beatles, as well as the city’s world-class art galleries, museums and landmarks, tourism has also become a significant factor in Liverpool’s economy.
In 2004, property developer Grosvenor started the Paradise Project, a £920 m development based on Paradise Street. This produced the most significant changes to Liverpool’s city centre since the post-war reconstruction. Renamed ‘Liverpool ONE,’ the centre opened in May 2008.
In 2007, the city celebrated the 800th anniversary of the founding of the borough of Liverpool, for which a number of events were planned. Liverpool was designated as a joint European Capital of Culture for 2008. The main celebrations, in September 2008, included the erection of La Princesse, a large mechanical spider 20 metres high and weighing 37 tonnes, and represents the “eight legs” of Liverpool: honour, history, music, the Mersey, the ports, governance, sunshine and culture. La Princesse roamed the streets of the city during the festivities, and concluded by entering the Queensway Tunnel.
Spearheaded by the multi-billion-pound Liverpool ONE development, regeneration has continued through to the start of the early 2010s. Some of the most significant redevelopment projects include new buildings in the Commercial District, the King’s Dock, Mann Island, the Lime Street Gateway, the Baltic Triangle, the RopeWalks, and the Edge Lane Gateway. All projects could be eclipsed by the Liverpool Waters scheme, which if built will cost in the region of £5.5billion and be one of the largest megaprojects in the UK’s history. Liverpool Waters is a mixed-use development planned to contain one of Europe’s largest skyscraper clusters. The project received outline planning permission in 2012, despite fierce opposition from such groups as UNESCO, which claimed that it would adversely affect Liverpool’s World Heritage status.
Urban and metropolitan area
Liverpool is the largest local authority by population, GDP and area in Merseyside. Liverpool is typically grouped with the wider Merseyside area for the purpose of defining its metropolitan footprint, and there are several methodologies. Liverpool is defined as a standalone NUTS3 area by the ONS for statistical purpose, and makes up part of the NUTS2 area “Merseyside” along with East Merseyside (Knowsley, St Helens and Halton), Sefton and the Wirral. The population of this area was 1,513,306 based on 2014 estimates.
The “Liverpool Urban Area” is a term used by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) to denote the urban area around the city to the east of the River Mersey. The contiguous built-up area extends beyond the area administered by Liverpool City Council into adjoining local authority areas, particularly parts of Sefton and Knowsley. As defined by ONS, the area extends as far east as Haydock and St. Helens. Unlike the Metropolitan area, the Urban Area does not include The Wirral or its contiguous areas. The population of this area as of 2011 was 864,211.
The “Liverpool City Region” is an economic partnership between local authorities in Merseyside under the umbrella of the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority as defined by the Mersey Partnership. The area covers Merseyside and the Borough of Halton and has an estimated population between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 and.
In 2006 ESPON (now (European Observation Network for Territorial Development and Cohesion) released a study defining a “Liverpool/Birkenhead Metropolitan area” as a functional urban area consisting of contiguous urban areas, labour pool, and commuter “Travel To Work Areas”. The analysis grouped the Merseyside metropolitan county with the borough of Halton, Wigan in Greater Manchester, the city of Chester as well as number of towns in Lancashire and Cheshire including Ormskirk and Warrington, estimating the polynuclear metropolitan area to have a population of 2,241,000 people.
Liverpool's history means that there are a considerable variety of architectural styles found within the city, ranging from 16th century Tudor buildings to modern-day contemporary architecture. The majority of buildings in the city date from the late-18th century onwards, the period during which the city grew into one of the foremost powers in the British Empire. There are over 2,500 listed buildings in Liverpool, of which 27 are Grade I listed and 85 are Grade II* listed. The city also has a greater number of public sculptures than any other location in the United Kingdom aside from Westminster and more Georgian houses than the city of Bath. This richness of architecture has subsequently seen Liverpool described by English Heritage, as England's finest Victorian city. The value of Liverpool's architecture and design was recognised in 2004, when several areas throughout the city were declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Known as the Liverpool Maritime Mercantile City, the sites were added in recognition of the city's role in the development of international trade and docking technology.
Waterfront and docks
As a major British port, the docks in Liverpool have historically been central to the city's development. Several major docking firsts have occurred in the city including the construction of the world's first enclosed wet dock (the Old Dock) in 1715 and the first ever hydraulic lifting cranes. The best-known dock in Liverpool is the Albert Dock, which was constructed in 1846 and today comprises the largest single collection of Grade I listed buildings anywhere in Britain. Built under the guidance of Jesse Hartley, it was considered to be one of the most advanced docks anywhere in the world upon completion and is often attributed with helping the city to become one of the most important ports in the world. The Albert Dock houses restaurants, bars, shops, two hotels as well as the Merseyside Maritime Museum, International Slavery Museum, Tate Liverpool and The Beatles Story. North of the city centre is Stanley Dock, home to the Stanley Dock Tobacco Warehouse, which was at the time of its construction in 1901, the world's largest building in terms of area and today stands as the world's largest brick-work building. One of the most famous locations in Liverpool is the Pier Head, renowned for the trio of buildings – the Royal Liver Building, the Cunard Building and the Port of Liverpool Building – which sit upon it. Collectively referred to as the Three Graces, these buildings stand as a testament to the great wealth in the city during the late 19th and early 20th century. Built-in a variety of architectural styles, they are recognised as being the symbol of Maritime Liverpool and are regarded by many as contributing to one of the most impressive waterfronts in the world. In recent years, several areas along Liverpool's waterfront have undergone significant redevelopment. Amongst the notable recent developments are the Museum of Liverpool, the construction of the Liverpool Arena and BT Convention Centre on Kings Dock, Alexandra Tower and 1 Princes Dock on Prince's Dock and Liverpool Marina around Coburg and Brunswick Docks. The Wheel of Liverpool opened on 25 March 2010
Other notable landmarks
While the majority of Liverpool's architecture dates from the mid-18th century onwards, there are several buildings that pre-date this time. One of the oldest surviving buildings is Speke Hall, a Tudor manor house located in the south of the city, which was completed in 1598. The building is one of the few remaining timber framed Tudor houses left in the north of England and is particularly noted for its Victorian interiors, which was added in the mid-19th century. In addition to Speke Hall, many of the city's other oldest surviving buildings are also former manor houses including Croxteth Hall and Woolton Hall, which were completed in 1702 and 1704 respectively. The oldest building within the city centre is the Grade I listed Bluecoat Chambers, which was built between 1717 and 1718. Constructed in British Queen Anne style, the building was influenced in part by the work of Christopher Wren and was originally the home of the Bluecoat School (who later moved to a larger site in Wavertree in the south of the city). Since 1908 it has acted as a centre for arts in Liverpool. Liverpool is noted for having two Cathedrals, each of which imposes over the landscape around it. The Anglican Cathedral, which was constructed between 1904 and 1978, is the largest Cathedral in Britain and the fifth largest in the world. Designed and built in Gothic style, it is regarded as one of the greatest buildings to have been constructed during the 20th century and was described by former British Poet Laureate, John Betjeman, as 'one of the great buildings of the world'. The Roman Catholic Metropolitan Cathedral was constructed between 1962 and 1967 and is known as one of the first Cathedrals to break the traditional longitudinal design. In recent years, many parts of Liverpool's city centre have undergone significant redevelopment and regeneration after years of decline. The largest of these developments has been Liverpool One, which has seen almost £1 billion invested in the redevelopment of 42 acres (170,000 m2) of land, providing new retail, commercial, residential and leisure space. Around the north of the city centre several new skyscrapers have also been constructed including the RIBA award-winning Unity Buildings and West Tower, which at 140m is Liverpool's tallest building. Many redevelopment schemes are also in progress including Central Village / Circus, the Lime Street gateway, and the highly ambitious Liverpool Waters. There are many other notable buildings in Liverpool, including the art deco former terminal building of Speke Airport, the University of Liverpool's Victoria Building, (which provided the inspiration for the term Red Brick University), and the Adelphi Hotel, which was in that past considered to be one of the finest hotels anywhere in the world
As with other large cities, Liverpool is an important cultural centre within the United Kingdom, incorporating music, performing arts, museums and art galleries, literature and nightlife amongst others. In 2008, the cultural heritage of the city was celebrated with the city holding the title of European Capital of Culture, during which time a wide range of cultural celebrations took place in the city, including Go Superlambananas! and La Princesse. Liverpool has also held Europe’s largest music and poetry event, the Welsh national Eisteddfod, three times, despite being in England, in 1884, 1900, and 1929.
Liverpool is internationally known for music and is recognised by Guinness World Records as the World Capital City of Pop. Musicians from the city have produced 56 No. 1 singles, more than any other city in the world. Both the most successful male band and girl group in global music history have contained Liverpudlian members. Liverpool is most famous as the birthplace of the Beatles and during the 1960s was at the forefront of the Beat Music movement, which would eventually lead to the British Invasion. Many notable musicians of the time originated in the city including Billy J. Kramer, Cilla Black, Gerry and the Pacemakers and The Searchers. The influence of musicians from Liverpool, coupled with other cultural exploits of the time, such as the Liverpool poets, prompted American poet Allen Ginsberg to proclaim that the city was "the centre of consciousness of the human universe". Other musicians from Liverpool include Billy Fury, A Flock of Seagulls, Echo & the Bunnymen, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Frankie Vaughan, Anathema, Ladytron, The Zutons, Cast, Atomic Kitten and Rebecca Ferguson. The La's 1990 hit single "There She Goes" was described by Rolling Stone as a The city is also home to the oldest surviving professional symphony orchestra in the UK, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, which is based in the Philharmonic Hall. The chief conductor of the orchestra is Vasily Petrenko. Sir Edward Elgar dedicated his Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 to the Liverpool Orchestral Society, and the piece had its first performance in the city in 1901. Among Liverpool's curiosities, the Austrian émigré Fritz Spiegl is notable. He not only became a world expert on the etymology of Scouse, but composed the music to Z-cars and the Radio 4 UK Theme.
In Liverpool primary and secondary education is available in various forms supported by the state including secular, Church of England, Jewish, and Roman Catholic. Islamic education is available at primary level, but there is no secondary provision. One of Liverpool's important early schools was The Liverpool Blue Coat School; founded in 1708 as a charitable school. The Liverpool Blue Coat School is the top-performing school in the city with 100% 5 or more A*-C grades at GCSE resulting in the 30th best GCSE results in the country and an average point score per student of 1087.4 in A/AS levels. Other notable schools include Liverpool College founded in 1840 Merchant Taylors' School founded in 1620. Another of Liverpool's notable senior schools is St. Edward's College situated in the West Derby area of the city. Historic grammar schools, such as the Liverpool Institute High School and Liverpool Collegiate School—both closed in the 1980s—are still remembered as centres of academic excellence. Liverpool has three universities: the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University. Edge Hill University, founded as a teacher-training college in the Edge Hill district of Liverpool, is now located in Ormskirk in South-West Lancashire. Liverpool is also home to the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). The University of Liverpool was established in 1881 as University College Liverpool. In 1884, it became part of the federal Victoria University. Following a Royal Charter and Act of Parliament in 1903, it became an independent university, the University of Liverpool, with the right to confer its own degrees. It was the first university to offer degrees in biochemistry, architecture, civic design, veterinary science, oceanography and social science. Liverpool Hope University, which was formed through the merger of three colleges, the earliest of which was founded in 1844, gained university status in 2005. It is the only ecumenical university in Europe. It is situated on both sides of Taggart Avenue in Childwall and has a second campus in the city centre (the Cornerstone). Liverpool John Moores University was previously a polytechnic, and gained status in 1992. It is named in honour of Sir John Moores, one of the founders of the Littlewoods football pools and retail group, who was a major benefactor. The institution was previously owned and run by Liverpool City Council. It traces it lineage to the Liverpool Mechanics Institute, opened in 1823, making it by this measure England's third-oldest university. The city has one further education college, Liverpool Community College in the city centre. Liverpool City Council operates Burton Manor, a residential adult education college in nearby Burton, on the Wirral Peninsula. There are two Jewish schools in Liverpool, both belonging to the King David Foundation. King David School, Liverpool is the High School and the King David Primary School. There is also a King David Kindergarten, featured in the community centre of Harold House. These schools are all run by the King David Foundation located in Harold House in Childwall; conveniently next door to the Childwall Synagogue.
The City of Liverpool is the most successful footballing city in England. Football is the most popular sport in the city, home to Everton F.C. and Liverpool F.C.. Between them, the clubs have won 28 English First Division titles, 12 FA Cup titles, 10 League Cup titles, 6 European Cup titles, 1 European Cup Winners' Cup title, 3 UEFA Cup titles, and 24 FA Charity Shields. The clubs both compete in the Premier League, of which they are founding members, and contest the Merseyside derby, dubbed the 'friendly derby' despite there having been more sending-offs in this fixture than any other. However, unlike many other derbies, it is not rare for families in the city to contain supporters of both clubs. Liverpool F.C. is the English and British club with the most European Cup titles with six, the latest in 2019. Everton F.C. was founded in 1878 and play at Goodison Park and Liverpool F.C. were founded in 1892 and play at Anfield. Many high-profile players have played for the clubs, including Dixie Dean, Alan Ball, Gary Lineker, Neville Southall and Wayne Rooney for Everton F.C. and Kenny Dalglish, Alan Hansen, Kevin Keegan, Ian Rush and Steven Gerrard for Liverpool F.C.. Notable managers of the clubs include Harry Catterick and Howard Kendall of Everton, and Bill Shankly and Bob Paisley of Liverpool. Famous professional footballers from Liverpool include Peter Reid, Gary Ablett, Wayne Rooney, Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Tony Hibbert. The City of Liverpool is the only one in England to have staged top division football every single season since the formation of the Football League in 1888, and both of the city's clubs play in high-capacity stadiums.
Aintree is home to the world's most famous steeple-chase, the John Smith's Grand National which takes place annually in early April. The race meeting attracts horse owners/ jockeys from around the world to compete in the demanding 4 miles (6.4 km) and 30 fence course. There have been many memorable moments of the Grand National, for instance, the 100/1 outsider Foinavon in 1967, the dominant Red Rum and Ginger McCain of the 1970s and Mon Mome (100/1) who won the 2009 meeting. In 2010, the National became the first horse race to be televised in high-definition in the UK.
Liverpool is home to the Premier League football clubs Everton and Liverpool F.C. Liverpool has played at Anfield since 1892, when the club was formed to occupy the stadium following Everton's departure due to a dispute with their landlord. Liverpool are still playing there 125 years later, although the ground has been completely rebuilt since the 1970s. The Spion Kop (rebuilt as an all-seater stand in 1994–95) was the most famous part of the ground, gaining cult status across the world due to the songs and celebrations of the many fans who packed onto its terraces. Anfield is classified as a 4 Star UEFA Elite Stadium with capacity for 54,000 spectators in comfort and is a distinctive landmark in an area filled with smaller and older buildings. Liverpool club also has a multimillion-pound youth training facility called The Academy. After leaving Anfield in 1892, Everton moved to Goodison Park on the opposite side of Stanley Park. Goodison Park was the first major football stadium built in England. Molineux (Wolves' ground) had been opened three years earlier but was still relatively undeveloped. St. James's Park, Newcastle, opened in 1892, was little more than a field. Only Scotland had more advanced grounds. Rangers opened Ibrox in 1887, while Celtic Park was officially inaugurated at the same time as Goodison Park. Everton performed a miraculous transformation at Mere Green, spending up to £3000 on laying out the ground and erecting stands on three sides. The ground was immediately renamed Goodison Park and proudly opened on 24 August 1892, by Lord Kinnaird and Frederick Wall of the FA. But instead of a match, the 12,000 crowds saw a short athletics meeting followed by a selection of music and a fireworks display. Everton's first game there was on 2 September 1892 when they beat Bolton 4–2. It now has the capacity for just under 40,000 spectators all-seated, but the last expansion took place in 1994 when a new goal-end stand gave the stadium an all-seater capacity. The Main Stand dates back to the 1970s, while the other two stands are refurbished pre-Second World War structures.