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I've lived in Manchester all my life and have seen it change in many ways over the years - probably one of the much needed changes in more recent years was the refurbishment of the Piccadilly gardens area. I say refurbishment but, really it is more like a 'makeover'!
Where are Piccadilly gardens?
It is located in Manchester city centre - slap bang next to the main bus stop area and within a few minutes walk of Piccadilly train station. The gardens are right across from Market street which is one of the main shopping streets in the city centre which leads to the Arndale and also to the famous King Street.
What kind of garden is it?
Of course what may be confusing to visitors to the city is that they are expecting an actual garden within a city where you see flowers, trees and the usual like of a garden! What I should explain is that it used to be slightly more garden like in the older days as it had a section that dipped where there was then a large lawn and a walkway around this with benches set up.
Now though after the makeover, the 'garden' is actually a flat piece of open land where two smaller section of lawn have been put in with the rest all concrete. There is a section in the middle where they have installed fountains. There are various places to sit but, concrete style seats rather than the classic wooden bench. There are a variety of shops and restaurants all around the gardens with the biggest right across the road being Primark and a Prêt and Nero's both circling it too. The tram also runs right along side it with various stops also right on the edge of the gardens.
My personal opinion:
I liked the old style of gardens as it felt more like an actual garden where people could go to sit and watch the world go by. In certain months a small funfair used to set up in the gardens and I remember as a child going on the carousel there! In my opinion what would have been better for the council to do would have been to just make over the original gardens by maybe replanting trees, giving the lawn a good fixing and re paving followed by some nice new benches. Instead they completely gutted it and flattened all the land out. It's not that I don't like the new style of 'garden' being all modern it is fairly nicely done but, most often the fountain for example is never on which when it is makes the area look quite funky in itself. In fact, it's been a long while since I have seen them on and that was during a rather hot day when children were running through it, parents relaxed on the grass and the ice cream van was set up for the day! I think this is when the new style of garden really shows how nice it can be as when it is full of people just watching the world go by and enjoying the sunshine whilst the sound of the water from the fountains gives off a peaceful vibe it can be a good place in the middle of a busy city to just do nothing! However I do feel they have lost some of that original charm by not having it actually resembling an actual garden!
If you fancy visiting Piccadilly gardens just don't expect too much and don't be surprised you think 'is this it?' After all it is just a flat piece of land with a bit of concrete and grass on it!