For many years, the North of Britain has been dubbed "the grim North". This is mainly due to its industrial history, when its factories filled the air with thick black smoke. After the end of the era of industrial production, many of the cities in the North suffered badly from poverty and unemployment.
Regeneration and modern architecture
But a lot has changed since then, especially in the past decade. Cities like Newcastle – once called the "Venice of Britain" – have been renovated and cleaned, revealing their architectural beauty.
Competing with London for art
As a result, the North is now competing with London in the domain of art. Liverpool was the Capital of Culture in 2008. Manchester now has its own huge, international art and design festival, and is also the location for Britain's largest major sculpture, artist Thomas Heatherwick's Big Bang. Newcastle's huge art gallery 'The Baltic', located in an old flour mill on the banks of the Tyne, has been called the "Tate Modern of the North". Statistics also demonstrate how things are changing: in Manchester and Liverpool, three times more money was spent on new arts venues than in London.
Knightsbridge of the North
Next to the big museums, numerous small and trendy galleries are growing out of the ground. Consequently, the North received its official endorsement as a "cool" place to go - from travel guide book publishers Lonely Planet, who praised Leeds as the "Knightsbridge of the north" and Manchester as "one of Britain's most exciting and interesting cities".