Manchester had its origins in Castlefield, immediately southwest of the city's historic core, which local authorities have designated an "urban heritage park." Interlaced with canals that helped transport building supplies during the city's late-19th-century heyday, Castlefield's known as a place to escape from more crowded venues downtown. Long ago, it was a densely populated neighborhood that housed as many as 2,000 civilians beginning in A.D. 79, when Manchester was Mamucium, a fortified Roman camp strategically positioned between other Roman outposts, Chester and Carlisle. The roots of modern-day Manchester grew from here, providing the basic goods and services that supplied the soldiers in the nearby fort. After the Romans abandoned their fortress in A.D. 411, the settlement, by then known as Mancestra, stood alone throughout the Dark Ages.
Manchester slumbered for centuries until its heyday came in the 18th and 19th centuries. The development of the Bridgewater Canal, which transferred raw materials and coal to Manchester's factories from outlying regions, spurred the city's industrial growth. Warehouses arose around the wharves, their names suggesting their wares (for example, Potato Wharf). Later, Liverpool Road housed the world's first passenger railway station, today home to the Museum of Science and Industry.
Though the city atrophied for decades after its reign as industrial capital of the world, an interest in urban renewal emerged in the 1970s. Many of the city's grand canals and warehouses have been restored, and Castlefield is once again a thriving, vibrant district loaded with a curious mixture of antique and ultramodern buildings randomly positioned next to each other. Such neighboring districts as the Northern Quarter seem to specialize in funky bars and shops selling all manner of used clothing and 1960s-era nostalgia.
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