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It's such an appropriate nickname, developed in the 19th century and applied to the city of Manchester in the northwest of England.

Views at the time were that Manchester was a dark, grim, smoky industrial machine focused on manufacturing and profit. And to an extent that would probably have been true.

Modern Manchester is very different.

However, some of the old warehouses remain, dotted in and around the city centre, often next to the canal system that flows through it.

The contrasts can be stark:

The warehouses, bridges and buildings of Manchester

The Beetham Tower rises 169m into the sky and its 47 stories tower over the city, but around its base remain some of the older things that made the city famous.

Along with the canals, the railways were just as important during the 1800s when the coal was shipped in and the cotton goods shipped out. Those red brick rail arches are still there, more often than not these days housing a bar or nightclub, but always propping up the platforms and tracks above.

Beetham Tower and the rail and tram station

Of course, lots of the infrastructure is now barely recognizable from the old days when industry flourished.

No more so, than Salford out the outskirts of the city centre, transformed over the years and now surrounded by high-rise offices.

the modern entane to Salford rail station

The metal pedestrian bridge over the River Irwell then takes you firmly into modern Manchester and the "Left Bank" area - steel and glass buildings tower all around. This is Spinningfields.

Spinningfields as the name suggests housed cotton mills and factories back in the 1800s, but now all that has changed, and the area is home to some of the most modern offices and leisure facilities the city has to offer - quite a transformation.

The Left Bank in Manchester

Another part of the Spinningfields area is Crown Square, home to the Court buildings (to the left on the image below) and the Oast House pub and restaurant.

Crown Square and the Oast House, Manchester

As you go further into the city, you reach the financial heart and the shopping centre of Manchester - again transformed with the LCD screens and hustle and bustle.

Market Street and the Arndale shopping centre in Manchester

The whole city has been transformed, but there are still lots of old buildings and architecture to see, lots have remained and it is fantastic to come across them as you walk around.

Of course, some buildings never change - Manchester Cathedral is a prime example.

The Cathedral would have been just like this, perhaps a little dirtier, when Cottonopolis was in full flow.

Manchester is a great place to visit, but the days of Cottonopolis have long gone.


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