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Sheffield's growing appeal
Sheffield in General
Member Name: Bel Ludovic
Sheffield in General
Date: 23/03/03, updated on 23/03/03 (81 review reads)
Advantages: Heart of the City project looks good, Devonshire Quarter makes Sheffield a great place to be a student, warm and friendly people
Disadvantages: awe-inspiring ugliness in many parts of the city centre, shopping has suffered due to Meadowhall
Five years after my last visit to Sheffield left me feeling rather underwhelmed, the South Yorkshire city renowned for steel and cutlery manufacture has received a city centre facelift. Its collection of fine Victorian buildings at the heart of the city has been enhanced by the addition of a magnificent modern piazza, called the Peace Gardens, in front of the City Hall, and the landmark Winter Gardens a few steps away, where exotic plants and palms nestle in a serence space beneath a spectacular roof. It's all part of the Heart Of The City project which aims to put the former back into the latter and provide an impressive series of urban setpieces.
Away from these, however, there's little to trouble your camera - much of Sheffield is ugly on a heroic scale, be it the bleak expanses of ring road such as Arundel Gate or the charmless shopping street of The Moors. It's this sheer lack of citywide visual appeal that has led the city to be rather ignored by the nation at large, especially compared to nearby cities such as Leeds, Manchester and Nottingham. But a city is more than just a collection of pretty buildings; Sheffield still has a certain something that appeals. And that something is the unrivalled warmth, friendliness and wit of its people, noticeable on even the most fleeting of visits. Perhaps this is why graduates of the University of Sheffield speak of the city with such profound affection.
Any visitor to the city should of course check out the aforementioned Millennium projects, especially the Winter Gardens; from there, linger in the Peace Gardens before heading to Division Street which is the centrepiece of the Devonshire Quarter, a young and vibrant area of interesting individual shops, such as the modern-day youth bazaar The Forum. On a sunny Saturday, this area hums with a wonderful vibe, with young people relaxing in the neighbouring Devonshire Green, a scruffy expanse of lawn overlooked by expensive new condos. This are
a links in nicely with the University district based around the lively, up-and-coming West Road, distinguished by its cafes, bars and student-oriented shops, as well as the immense noise of Sheffield's huge, lumbering trams that are only a decade old but sound a century older.
If time permits, a tentative exploration of the embryonic Cultural Industries Quarter by the railway station can be rewarding. Aesthetically, I'd advise lowering your expectations, although there are a couple of superb modern buildings amidst the unassuming low rise, including the now-defunct National Centre For Popular Music. The Site art gallery and cafe is now the principal distraction in this area.
Sheffield's nightlife is regarded as very good but if clubbing and bar life don't rock your world then the city's probably not in itself worth an overnight stay. An enjoyable day can be had, though, especially if you have lunch at the marvellous Olive Garden cafe near the Winter Gardens (above a historic health food shop) and afternoon snack on waffles from the Double Dutch Pancake Bar in Orchard Square.
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