When thinking of Sheffield, it is all too easy to only picture the city of steel and see in one’s mind’s eye the foundries and factories that have made this city famous. It was, like many English northern cities in the 19th century, a powerhouse of the Industrial Revolution, with several innovations spurring on the tremendous growth of the city. Notably these innovations include crucible and stainless steel and silver plating. As with other cities of that industrious period, to feed the factories with the necessary workforce, thousands upon thousands of back-to-back dwellings were constructed, close to the factories that were constantly belching out their plumes of polluting smoke. This led the famous social commentator of the early-mid 20th century, George Orwell, to comment that Sheffield could lay claim to be called the ugliest town in the Old World! This is all very unfair because as soon as one scratches beneath the surface you discover quite a different Sheffield. A not so well-known fact about the city is that a staggering 61% of it is green space, and as a city it has more trees per person than any other city in Europe! As much of Sheffield is built on hillsides with views into the city or the surrounding countryside, one never feels far away from green space and nature. This is compounded by the fact that due to its geographical isolation, ringed by hills with inhospitable rugged moorland and hills beyond, it has never become a sprawling conurbation. So when thinking of Sheffield think of a ‘green city of steel’.
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