Albert Square
Albert Square - as it is now

In a recent article titled ‘Manchester: The Best City You’re Not Visiting’ Huffington Post declared our beloved city as ‘the kind of city that makes you feel at home.’

Huffington Post contributor Erin Frank went travelling and found a trip to Manchester just because she felt is was right fit for her. She’d always looked to Manchester as somewhere she’d end up someday. She had ‘dreamed about it at night.’ When the opportunity to visit presented itself, she grabbed it.

Founded by the Romans and developed by the Victorians, Manchester is a landlocked city cradled by the Rivers Mersey and Irwell, fed by the Manchester Ship Canal and split by railways. Manchester is situated on the cusp of the North — a large, vague area so named both for its geographical location in respect to the rest of England, as well as to differentiate it from London, which often seems to be the only part of the island most people feel is worth mentioning.

Erin goes on to compare our region to the Midwest of America, and that ‘if London is New York, then Manchester is Chicago.’

Historic, industrial, vibrant on its own but not reliant on such desperately blind ambition to be always bigger, richer, louder, better. Manchester allows London to have the attention it so craves because Manchester knows what it already has. It’s just waiting for everyone else to figure it out, too.

‘Choosing Manchester was easy for me,’ says Erin.

‘The Mancunians I met seemed thrilled that someone was coming to their city in the first place — like most really great places, it’s entirely underrated, with major tourist spots such as London all too happy to deride the perceived backwardness of the city and its people. Me flying specifically to Manchester as a destination confirmed what they knew in their bones but have been trained not to admit, at least not too loudly; Manchester is fucking cool.’

Her main reason for picking Manchester was for the libraries.

Manchester is home to some of the most beautiful libraries in the world.

One, Chetham’s Library, is the oldest free public library in the English-speaking world. Its official founder, Humphrey Chetham, stated that the library should “require nothing of any man that cometh,” which, along with similar inscriptions declaring an institution dedicated to the public good, never fails to make me misty-eyed.

She goes on to mention John Rylands Library and its soaring Reading Room, Manchester Central Library which ‘stands resolutely between the Midland Hotel’ (where Misters Rolls and Royce developed a car) and Manchester Town Hall.’

“The library girl” also applauds Manchester’s illustrious musical history including Morrissey, Joy Division and the Stone Roses.

She continues by praising Manchester’s people and accent.

’As beautiful and breathtaking as the libraries are, the greatest thing about Manchester is its people. Mancunians are warm, funny and hard-drinking. They have the ability to make friends of foreigners, rolling out a welcome that feels easy and right. Basically, they’re Midwesterners with better politics who probably won’t pester you about Jesus.’

‘The Manchester accent is utterly charming.’

She recommends discovering the best in Mancunians by visiting the pubs, mentioning The Brink, a tiny basement bar in Deansgate serving ales brewed within 25 miles of Manchester.

She concludes her visit with a wonderful statement.

‘If you want to stroll amidst gorgeous architecture and good books and better music — visit Manchester.’

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