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For other uses, see Glasgow (disambiguation)
Glasgow's location in Scotland
Glasgow's location in Scotland

Glasgow (or Glasch in Gaelic) is Scotland's largest city, on the River Clyde in west central Scotland.


The City

Known as the commercial capital of Scotland, the City of Glasgow is a bustling, cosmopolitan European city. It has a population of 612,000 down from its 1960's peak of 1.1 million.

The name comes from the older Gaelic glas cu (compare modern Gaelic Glasch), meaning green hollow. A "dear green place" has been misquoted as a Gaelic translation for the city, but this was actually Daniel Defoe's description of the city when he visited in the early 18th century; he also claimed that Glasgow was "the cleanest and beautifullest, and best built City in Britain, London excepted". At that time, the city was built with attractive, compact wooden buildings, none of which remain.

Glasgow is the third most popular tourist destination in the UK after London and Edinburgh and boasts Britain's second biggest shopping district.

Coat of arms

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The coat of arms of Glasgow

The coat of arms shows Glasgow's patron saint, Saint Kentigern also known as Saint Mungo, and includes four emblems — a bird, a tree, a bell, and a fish. The emblems represent miracles Saint Mungo is reputed to have performed. The motto of the city is Let Glasgow Flourish and this is part of the arms. The motto is derived from Saint Mungo's original sermon: Let Glasgow flourish by the preaching of the word and the praising of thy name. The original version is inscribed on a bell made in 1637 which states Lord let Glasgow flovrichse throvgh the preaching of thy word and praising thy name.

Local children are taught to remember the arms using the following verse:

Here's the bird that never flew
Here's the tree that never grew
Here's the bell that never rang
Here's the fish that never swam

The motto was more recently commemorated in a song called "Mother Glasgow" by Hue and Cry, a popular musical group of Glasgow origin.


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Buchanan Street

Founding of the city

Glasgow had hosted communities for centuries before Christ, with the River Clyde providing a natural location for fishing. The Romans later built outposts in the area and, to keep Roman Britannia separate from the Celtic and Pictish Caledonia, constructed the Antonine Wall, remains of which can still be seen in Glasgow today.

Glasgow itself was founded by the Christian missionary Saint Mungo in the 6th century. He established a church on the Molendinar Burn, where the present Glasgow Cathedral stands, and in the following years Glasgow became a religious centre.

Glasgow Cathedral

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George Square and Glasgow's City Chambers

By the 12th century Glasgow had been granted the status of what can now be called a city and the cathedral was the seat of the Bishops and Archbishops of Glasgow. While there may have been wooden buildings on the site, the first stone cathedral was consecrated in about 1136 and replaced by a larger one which was consecrated in 1197. Extensions and alterations to the cathedral buildings have continued ever since. The most recent addition being the Millennium Window unveiled on 3 June 1999 by Princess Anne.

University of Glasgow

In 1451 the University of Glasgow was founded by papal bull and established in religious buildings in the precincts of Glasgow Cathedral. By the start of the 16th century, Glasgow had become an important religious and academic city and by the 17th century the university had moved from the cathedral precincts to its own building in the High Street.

Trade and the Industrial Revolution

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Glasgow's City Chambers, ceiling of the ground floor entry hall

By the 16th century, the city's trades and craftsmen had begun to wield significant influence and the city had become an important trading centre with the Clyde providing access to the city and the rest of Scotland for merchant shipping. The access to the Atlantic ocean allowed the importation of American tobacco and Caribbean sugar, which were then traded around the British Isles and continental Europe.

The de-silting of the Clyde in the 1770s allowed bigger ships to move further up the river, thus laying the foundations for industry and shipbuilding in Glasgow during the 19th century.

The abundance of coal and iron in Lanarkshire led to Glasgow becoming an industrial city — eventually termed "The Second City of the Empire". Cotton factories and textile mills became large employers in Glasgow and the local region.

Trading allowed great wealth to be generated for some in the city. The merchants constructed spectacular buildings and monuments that can still be seen today, and reinvested their money in industrial development to help Glasgow grow further. In 1893 the burgh was constituted as the County of the City of Glasgow. Glasgow became one of the richest cities in the world, and parks, museums and libraries were all opened during this period.

Decline of industry and the post-war period

Glasgow did not escape the effects of the Great Depression. But the period after the second world war saw the greatest decline in the industrial base.

Although ships and trains were still being built on the Clyde, cheap labour abroad reduced the competitiveness of Glasgow's industries. By the 1960s, Glasgow had gone into economic decline. The major shipbuilders on the Clyde began to close down, but not before Clydebank had built one of its last great ships, Cunard's 'Queen Elizabeth 2'. By the turn of the millennium, only two shipyards remained on the Clyde, both relying on Government defence contracts to remain in business.

The 1970s and early 1980s were dark periods in the history of the city, as steelworks, coal mines, engine factories and other heavy industries went out of business. This led to mass unemployment and high levels of urban decay. Since the mid-80s however, the city has slowly undergone a painful rebirth — a financial district consisting of an number of new office buildings has sprung up at the western end of the city centre, and this has become home to many well-known banks, consultancy and I.T. firms, legal practices, and insurance companies. In the suburbs, numerous leisure and retail developments have been built on the former sites of factories and heavy industries. Critics argue however, that such new developments are fragile, owing to their dependence on the service sector rather than manufacturing.

Modern Glasgow

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UGC Cinema on Renfrew Street — the world's tallest cinema

Since the 1980's, Glasgow has been rebuilding both its image and its architecture. The City Council's 'Glasgow' smiles better' campaign was followed by the considerable coup of the European Garden Festival being held in Glasgow in 1988 at the Prince’s Dock in Govan. Glasgow was then named European City of Culture in 1990, followed by City of Architecture and Design in 1999 and European Capital of Sport in 2003.

The city's riverbank has been particularly transformed – from industrial dereliction caused by the demise of shipbuilding to a centre of leisure and trendy residential building.

Glasgow is the capital of new music in Scotland, and has many venues and clubs such as the Barfly and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut that promote new bands and DJs. Additionally, it is home to some artists well known in the UK such as Franz Ferdinand.

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Recent years have seen a regeneration of Glasgow's river banks. Salmon have now returned to the Clyde

Redevelopment of residential areas, combined with the increased cultural activities, has contributed to a better environment. With this, the City Council has been successful in attracting tourists, conferences as well as major sporting events to the city. Public housing, previously administered by the Glasgow City Council, was transferred to the not-for-profit Glasgow Housing Association in 2003. This affected some 80,000 properties and created Britain's largest social landlord in an innovative tenant-led organisation.

The local police force is Strathclyde Police Force. Its area covers Glasgow, Renfrewshire, Ayrshire, Lanarkshire, Dunbartonshire and Argyll & Bute. Established in 1975, the force serves 2.2 million people and replaced the local county constabularies and the City of Glasgow Police, the UK's first police force.


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The north face of Templeton's Carpet Factory

Unlike Edinburgh, very little of medieval Glasgow remains, the two main landmarks from this period being the 14th century Provand's Lordship and Glasgow Cathedral. The vast majority of the city as seen today dates from the 19th century. As a result, Glasgow has an impressive heritage of Victorian architecture, the Glasgow City Chambers, the main building of the University of Glasgow, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott, and the Glasgow School of Art, designed by Charles Rennie Mackintosh, being outstanding examples. Another architect who had a great and enduring impact on the city's appearance was Alexander Thomson, who produced a distinctive architecture based on fundamentalist classicism that gave him the nickname "Greek". He was described as a "quiet, stay-at-home Victorian behind whose buttoned-up facade there seethed a kind of stylistic corsair who plundered the past for the greater glory of the present".

The buildings reflect the wealth and self confidence of the residents of the "second city of the Empire". Glasgow generated immense wealth from trade and the industries that developed from the Industrial Revolution. The shipyards, marine engineering, steel making, and heavy industry all contributed to the growth of the city. At one time the expression "Clyde-built" was synonymous with quality and engineering excellence. There are two buildings in Glasgow that resemble the Doge's Palace in Venice: Templeton's carpet factory at Glasgow Green and the Stock Exchange. The allusions to Venice, another great sea-faring trading city, seem appropriate.

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Charles Rennie Mackintosh's Glasgow School of Art

Many of the city's beautiful buildings were built with red or gold sandstone, but after a few years those colours disappeared under a pervasive black layer of soot and pollutants from the furnaces.

Tenements were built to house the workers who had migrated from Ireland, the Scottish Highlands, the islands and the country areas in order to feed the local need for labour; these tenements were often overcrowded and insanitary, and many developed into the infamous Glasgow slums, the Gorbals area being one of the most notorious.

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The Glasgow Science Centre

In recent years many of these buildings have been cleaned and restored to their original appearance. Others were demolished to make way for large, barrack-like housing estates, and high-rise flats. The latter were built in large numbers during the 1960s and early 1970s; and indeed, Glasgow has a higher concentration of high-rise buildings than any other city in the UK. At 32 storeys, the Red Road flats in the north of the city were for many years the highest residential buildings in Europe. These "schemes" are widely regarded as unsuccessful: many, such as Castlemilk, were heartless dormitories well away from the centre of the city with no amenities, and split up long established community relationships ("deserts wi' windies", as Billy Connolly put it). Many of the high-rise developments were poorly designed and cheaply built and became magnets for crime. Over time many have become as bad as the slum areas that they replaced. On March 7 2003 the Glasgow Housing Association took ownership of the housing stock from the city council, and has begun a programme of demolishing the worst of the high-rises.

Modern buildings in Glasgow include the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. Along the banks of the Clyde are the Glasgow Science Centre and the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, whose Clyde Auditorium was designed by Sir Norman Foster, and is affectionately known as the "Armidillo". Zaha Hadid has won a competition to design the new Transport Museum, which will move to the waterfront. Shopping centres include the Buchanan Galleries, the glass pyramid of the St Enoch Centre, and the upmarket Princes Square.

Given the history of high rises in Glasgow, the council's policy of allowing new tall buildings has attracted some controversy. The 39-storey Elphinstone Place mixed-use skyscraper in Charing Cross will be the tallest building in Scotland, and is scheduled to begin construction in late 2005 [1] ( Much development is taking place along the banks of the Clyde. Glasgow Harbour, which neighbours Partick is one of the largest residential developments. The second phase was unfavourably compared to the Red Road flats [2] (, but was granted planning permission.


The city has many amenities for a wide range of cultural activities, from curling to opera and from football to art appreciation; it also has a large selection of museums that include those devoted to transport, religion, and modern art. The Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum has a famous collection of paintings including many old masters, French Impressionists, etc. The Hunterian Museum and Art Gallery, of the University of Glasgow, has what is considered to be the best collection of Whistler paintings in the world. The Burrell Collection is an eclectic collection of art and antiquities donated to the city by William Burrell and housed in a museum in the Pollok Country Park. The People's Palace museum reflects the history of the city and its people, focussing on the working class of Glasgow.

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Spanish Workers Dying for Democracy banner exhibited in the People's Palace.

The Gallery of Modern Art is on Royal Exchange Square, just off George Square.

Glasgow's museums include:

The Mitchell Library is the largest public reference library in Europe.

Scotland's leading cultural institutions, Scottish Opera and the Royal Scottish National Orchestra are based here and the city also has a longstanding and lively popular music scene based around venues such as the Barrowlands and King Tut's Wah Wah Hut.

Glasgow has a number of theatres, includng:

Amongst the city's parks are:

The city was host to the two Great Exhibitions of 1881 and 1901. More recently it was European Capital of Culture 1990, National City of Sport 1995-1999, UK City of Architecture and Design 1999 and European Capital of Sport 2003.


Glasgow has a long sporting history, with the world's first international football match held in 1872 at the West of Scotland Cricket Club's Hamilton Crescent ground in the Partick area of Glasgow. The match was between Scotland and England and resulted in a 0–0 draw.

The city is home to Scotland's largest football stadia: Celtic Park (60,832 seats); Ibrox Stadium (50,411 seats); and Hampden Park (52,670 seats), which is Scotland's national football stadium. Glasgow has three professional football clubs: Rangers and Celtic, which together make the Old Firm; and Partick Thistle; A fourth club, Queens Park, is an amateur club that plays in the Scottish professional league system. It had two other professional clubs in the late 20th century: Clyde, which moved to Cumbernauld, and Third Lanark, which went bankrupt.

The history of football in the city, as well as the status of the Old Firm, attract many visitors to football matches in the city throughout the season. The standard of the national stadium has enabled the European football governing body UEFA to hold the final of the Champions League competition at Hampden Park three times, most recently in 2002. The Scottish Football Association, the national governing body, and the Scottish Football Museum are based in Glasgow.

Major international sporting arenas include Kelvin Hall and Scotstoun Sports Centre. In 2003 the National Academy for Badminton was completed in Scotstoun. In 2003 Glasgow was also given the title of European Capital of Sport.

Smaller sporting facilities include an abundance of small outdoor football pitches, as well as golf clubs and artificial ski slopes. Between 1998 and 2004,the Scottish Claymores American football team played some or all of their home games each season at Hampden and the venue also hosted World Bowl XI.

Religious rivalry

See also the main article: Religious rivalry in Glasgow

Some sectarian rivalry still exists among certain sectors of the population. Nowadays this is largely limited to the sporting rivalry between the supporters of Celtic and Rangers. Practically all Rangers supporters are nominally Protestant, while the majority of Celtic supporters are nominally Catholic.


Glasgow has a long history of supporting socialist ideas and politics. The city has been controlled by the Labour party for 30 years. Its socialist roots spring from the city's days as an industrial powerhouse. In the 1920s and 1930s the city's strikes and revolutionary fervour caused serious alarm at Westminster, with one uprising causing tanks to be sent onto the city's streets. Later, strikes at the shipyards gave rise to the "Red Clydeside" tag. During the 1930s, Glasgow was the main base of the Independent Labour Party. Towards the end of the 20th century it became a centre of struggle against the poll tax, and then the main base of the Scottish Socialist Party.


Glasgow currently has the largest number of citizens under the poverty line in the UK, and the divide between the city's wealthy areas and their nearby deprived neighbours can be quite marked. This poverty is associated with ill-health, and Glasgow has some of the worst incidences of heart disease and cancer in Scotland, which as a whole has the worst levels in western Europe. As of October 2004, statistics released [3] ( by the Office for National Statistics show that the life expectancy at birth for males in the city of Glasgow was 69.1 years in 2001-2003, the lowest in the UK. Female life expectancy at birth for the same period was 76.4 years, also the lowest. Eight out of the ten local authorities with the lowest male life expectancy at birth in 2001-2003 were in Scotland. The figures for Glasgow during 1991-1993 were 68.2 years for males and 75.0 for females. The lower life expectancy is often attributed to the diet, which has high levels of fat and salt and low levels of fresh fruit and vegetables.

Many social initiatives aimed at reversing the situation, including free fruit and free access to sport centres for schoolchildren, are being put in place.


Glaswegians have a unique sense of humour, and strong loyalty to their own city. The Glasgow Patter is a local, anglicised variety of Scots which is often humorous and hilarious to those who understand it — who are usually only natives of the city.

Billy Connolly has done a lot to make Glaswegian humour known to the rest of the world but, inevitably, it loses something in translation. Glaswegian is a rich and vital living dialect which gives a true reflection of the city with all its virtues and vices. It is more than an alternative pronunciation; words also change their meaning, e.g. "away" can mean "leaving" as in A'm awa , an instruction to stop being a nuisance as in awa wi ye , or "drunk" or "demented" as in he's awa wi it. Canna means "can't". Pieces refers to "sandwiches". Ginger is any form of carbonated soft drink. Then there are words whose meaning has no obvious relationship to that in standard English: coupon means "face", via "to punch a ticket coupon".

The TV series Chewin' the Fat and Rab C. Nesbitt capture the humour of the Glaswegian patois and sensibilities.

Glaswegians are sometimes disparagingly known, particularly among people from Edinburgh, as weegies , keelies or soap dodgers. Scots from the Scottish Highlands and the Western Isles are known as teuchters by the keelies. A (rather old-fashioned) Glaswegian insult is hieland , which means "awkward" and is Scots for "Highland". Example: that wean's got an awfu hieland wey o haudin that knife meaning "that kid has an awfully awkward way of holding that knife".


Glasgow is also a major education centre with four universities within ten miles of the city centre: the 15th-century University of Glasgow (which has one of the highest ratios of students who continue living at home), the "redbrick" University of Strathclyde, the concrete Glasgow Caledonian University, and the University of Paisley; as well as teacher training colleges, teaching hospitals, the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Glasgow School of Art, and 10 other further education colleges. Glasgow is home to over 70,000 further education students, the majority of them living in the west-end of the city.


Glasgow is also home to large sections of the Scottish national media. It hosts:




A number of major Scottish newspapers are published in the city:

As well as Scottish editions of:

Local Newspapers are:


See also the main article: Transport in Glasgow


There are two major airports that service passengers to and from the region:

Glasgow International Airport (GLA) is the larger and handles the majority of Glasgow's air traffic, including shuttle flights to and from London and the rest of the UK and Europe, and transatlantic links to many cities such as Chicago and New York. There are also flights to and from Dubai in the Middle East.

Glasgow Prestwick International Airport in Ayrshire (PIK) caters mainly for charter flights, low-cost airlines, and freight.


The city has two main-line railway stations. Queen Street Station, on the northern periphery of the city centre, connects Glasgow to the north of Scotland and Edinburgh. Central Station, on Argyle Street, is the northern terminus of the West Coast Main Line, connects Glasgow with the south, and is the rail gateway to England.

There is also a suburban above-ground rail system, centred on Central Station for the city south of the Clyde, the Ayrshire coast, and ferry ports on the Clyde. Queen Street Station is for links with Edinburgh, the east coast of Scotland, and west and north to the Highlands on the famous West Highland Line.

Plans to connect Glasgow to London by a 270 mph Transrapid (German maglev train) have emerged (,3604,1500038,00.html) in June 2005.

Major roads

The city is linked to the rest of the country by the following main roads.

The Glasgow Subway

See also the main article: Glasgow Subway

The Glasgow subway first opened at 06:00 on 14th December 1896, and was substantially modernised in 1977. Glasgow is one of only three UK metropolitan areas (the others are London and Tyne and Wear) that has an underground metro system. It has a single circular route. This and the orange-coloured paintwork of the carriages have led to it being known as "The Clockwork Orange".

Urban transport

The largest bus operators in the city are:

Full bus, train and ferry information is available from Traveline Scotland (

Suburbs and surrounding district

See: List of places in Glasgow, Scotland

Famous Glaswegians

See: List of famous Glaswegians

Twinned cities

Glasgow has been twinned with various cities around the world including:

See also

External links


simple:Glasgow de:Glasgow eo:Glasgovo es:Glasgow fr:Glasgow ga:Glasch gd:Glaschu id:Glasgow it:Glasgow la:Glasgovia nl:Glasgow ja:グラスゴー pl:Glasgow pt:Glasgow fi:Glasgow sco:Glesca sv:Glasgow zh:格拉斯哥


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