Glasgow’s large city centre is ranged across the north bank of the River Clyde. At its geographical heart is George Square, a nineteenth-century municipal showpiece crowned by the enormous City Chambers at its eastern end. Behind this lies the Merchant City, an area that blends magnificent Victorian architecture with yuppie conversions. The grand buildings and trendy cafés cling to the borders of the run-down East End, a strongly working-class district that chooses to ignore its rather showy neighbour. The oldest part of Glasgow, around the Cathedral, lies immediately north of the East End.
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The Merchant City
The Merchant City
The grid of streets that lies immediately east of the City Chambers is known as the Merchant City, an area of eighteenth-century warehouses and homes that was sandblasted and swabbed clean with greater enthusiasm and municipal money than any other part of Glasgow in an attempt to bring residents back into the city centre. The expected flood of yuppies was more of a trickle, but the expensive designer shops, cool bars and bijou cafés continue to flock here, giving the area a pervasive air of sophistication. A Merchant City Trail leaflet, which guides you around a dozen of the most interesting buildings in the area, is available at the tourist office.
- Glasgow School of Art
Originally conceived as a convenient way to house the influx of workers in the late 1800s, the Glasgow tenement design became more refined as the wealthy middle classes began to realize its potential. Mainly constructed between 1860 and 1910, these tenements, decked out with bay windows, turrets and domes, were home to the vast majority of Glaswegians for much of the twentieth century, and developed a culture and vocabulary all of their own: the “hurley”, for example, was the bed on castors which was kept below the box bed in an alcove of the kitchen; a “single end” tenement comprised just one room; and the “dunny” was the secluded bottom end of the “close” (entrance way), the perfect spot for games of hide and seek as well as romantic and nefarious encounters.