Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, the history of Leeds can be traced to the 5th century when the Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis", the origin of the name Leeds. The name has been applied to many administrative entities over the centuries. It changed from being the appellation of a small manorial borough, in the 13th century, through several incarnations, to being the name attached to the present metropolitan borough. In the 17th and 18th centuries Leeds became a major centre for the production and trading of wool. Then, during the Industrial Revolution, Leeds developed into a major mill town; wool was the dominant industry but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were important. From being a compact market town in the valley of theRiver Aire in the 16th century Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century.
Today Leeds is ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network; and is considered the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by three universities, and has one of the largest student populations in the country with over 250,000 students. and has the country's fourth largest urban economy. After London, Leeds is the largest legal centre in the UK, and in 2011 its financial and insurance services industry was worth £2.1 billion, the 5th largest in the UK, with over 30 national and international banks located in the city. It is the leading UK city for telephone delivered banking and related financial services, with over 30 call centres employing around 20,000 peopl
Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds and there are a number of twinning arrangements with towns and cities in other countries. Its assigned role in the Leeds City Region partnership recognises the city's importance to regional economic development, and the second phase of High Speed 2 plans to connect Leeds to London via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Meadowhall.
The name Leeds derives from "Loidis", the name given to a forest covering most of the Brythonic kingdom of Elmet, which existed during the 5th century into the early 7th century. Bede states in the fourteenth chapter of hisHistoria ecclesiastica, in a discussion of an altar surviving from a church erected by Edwin of Northumbria, that it is located in ...regione quae vocatur Loidis (Latin, "the region which is called Loidis"). An inhabitant of Leeds is locally known as a Loiner, a word of uncertain origin.
In 1801, 42% of the population of Leeds lived outside the township, in the wider borough. Cholera outbreaks in 1832 and 1849 caused the authorities to address the problems of drainage, sanitation and water supply. Water was pumped from the River Wharfe, but by 1860 it was too heavily polluted to be usable. Following the Leeds Waterworks Act of 1867 three reservoirs were built at Lindley Wood, Swinsty and Fewston in the Washburn Valley north of Leeds. Residential growth occurred in Holbeck and Hunslet from 1801 to 1851, but, as these townships became industrialised new areas were favoured for middle class housing. Land south of the river was developed primarily for industry and secondarily for back-to-backworkers' dwellings. The Leeds Improvement Act 1866 sought to improve the quality of working class housing by restricting the number of homes that could be built in a single terrace.
Holbeck and Leeds formed a continuous built-up area by 1858, with Hunslet nearly meeting them. In the latter half of the nineteenth century, population growth in Hunslet, Armley and Wortley outstripped that of Leeds. When pollution became a problem, the wealthier residents left the industrial conurbation to live in Headingley, Potternewton and Chapel Allerton which led to a 50% increase in the population of Headingley and Burley from 1851 to 1861. The middle class flight from the industrial areas led to development beyond the borough at Roundhay and Adel. The introduction of the electric tramway led to intensification of development in Headingley and Potternewton and expansion outside the borough into Roundhay.
Two private gas supply companies were taken over by the corporation in 1870 and the municipal supply provided street lighting and cheaper gas to homes. From the early 1880s the Yorkshire House-to-House Electricity Company supplied electricity to Leeds until it was purchased by Leeds Corporation and became a municipal supply.
Slum clearance and rebuilding began in Leeds during the Inter-war period when over 18,000 houses were built by the council on 24 estates in Cross Gates, Middleton, Gipton, Belle Isle and Halton Moor. The slums of Quarry Hill were replaced by the innovative Quarry Hill flats, which were demolished in 1975. Another 36,000 houses were built by private sector builders, creating suburbs in Gledhow, Moortown, Alwoodley, Roundhay, Colton, Whitkirk, Oakwood, Weetwood and Adel. After 1949 a further 30,000 sub-standard houses were demolished by the council and replaced by 151 medium-rise and high-rise blocks of council flats in estates at Seacroft, Armley Heights, Tinshill and Brackenwood.
Leeds has seen great expenditure on regenerating the city, attracting in investments and flagship projects, as found inLeeds city centre. Many developments boasting luxurious penthouse apartments have been built close to the city centre.
The extensive retail area of Leeds is identified as the principal regional shopping centre for the whole of the Yorkshire and the Humber region and approximately 3.2 million people live within its catchment area. There are a number of indoor shopping centres in the centre of the city, including the Merrion Centre, St John's Centre, The Core, the Victoria Quarter, The Light, the Corn Exchange and Trinity Leeds. In total there are approximately 1,000 retail stores, with a combined floorspace of 2,264,100 square feet (210,340 m2).
The city centre has a large pedestrian zone. Briggate is the main shopping street where one can find many well-known British High street stores, including Marks & Spencer, House of Fraser, Debenhams, Topshop, Costa Coffee and Harvey Nichols. There is also a large international presence in Leeds with stores such as H&M, Zara,Gap, American Apparel, Hollister, Urban Outfitters, Foot Locker, L'Occitane en Provence, McDonald's and Starbucks. Many companies have several stores within Central Leeds and the wider city. The Victoria Quarter is notable for its high-end luxury retailers and impressive architecture. 70 stores such as Louis Vuitton,Vivienne Westwood, Paul Smith, Diesel and anchor Harvey Nichols are contained within two iron-wrought Victorian arcades, and a new arcade formed by arcading Queen Victoria Street with the largest expanse of stained glass in Britain.
To the south of Leeds, just over the border into Kirklees district, lies the region's only IKEA store, next to Birstall Shopping Park which includes a Showcase Cinemaand some casual and fast-food restaurants. In the Churwell area of Leeds is theWhite Rose Shopping Centre. Opening in 1997, the centre has over 100 high street stores anchored by Debenhams, Marks & Spencer, Primark and Sainsbury's. Some stores have their only Leeds presence here and do not trade in Central Leeds, such as the Disney Store and Build-A-Bear workshop. Although the centre is below the average typical size for out of town shopping malls like the Trafford Centre orMeadowhall in nearby Yorkshire city Sheffield, it remains popular with national and international chains. Of the 40,000 people who work in retailing in Leeds 75% work in places which are not located in the city centre. There are additional shopping centres located in the many villages that became part of the county borough and in the towns that were incorporated in the City of Leeds in 1974.
On 21 March 2013, a large shopping and leisure complex called Trinity Leeds opened in the city centre. The modern and interactive retail space covers the old Burton Arcades and the former Leeds Shopping Plaza with its main entrance from Briggate. On completion, Trinity Leeds contains approximately 120 internationally recognised retail and leisure units, including; Cult, Hollister, Mango, Topshop, Topman, Apple, H&M, Next, River Island, Lego Store and Victoria's Secret and will catapult Leeds from 7th to 4th place in the UK retail rankings (3rd in England). Furthermore, D&D London have added two roof top restaurants in Trinity Leeds, expanding its portfolio of acclaimed eateries in London, Paris, New York, Copenhagen and Tokyo.
Leeds displays a variety of natural and built landmarks. Natural landmarks include such diverse sites as the gritstone outcrop of Otley Chevin and the Fairburn Ings RSPB reserve. The city's parks at Roundhay and Temple Newsam have long been owned and maintained by the council for the benefit of ratepayers and among the open spaces in the centre of Leeds are Millennium Square, City Square, Park Square and Victoria Gardens. This last is the site of the central city war memorial: there are 42 other war memorials in the suburbs, towns and villages in the district.
The built environment embraces edifices of civic pride like Morley Town Hall and the trio of buildings in Leeds, Leeds Town Hall, Corn Exchange and Leeds City Museumby the architect Cuthbert Brodrick. The two startlingly white buildings on the Leeds skyline are the Parkinson building of Leeds University and the Civic Hall, with golden owls adorning the tops of its twin spires.
Armley Mills, Tower Works, with its campanile-inspired towers, and the Egyptian-style Temple Works hark back to the city's industrial past, while the site and ruins of Kirkstall Abbey display the beauty and grandeur of Cistercian architecture. Notable churches are Leeds Minster (formerly Leeds Parish Church), St George's Church and Leeds Cathedral, in the city centre, and the Church of St John the Baptist, Adel and Bardsey Parish Church in quieter locations. Notable non-conformist chapels include the Salem Chapel, dating back to 1791 and notably the birthplace of Leeds United Football Club in 1919.
The 112 metres (367 ft) tower of Bridgewater Place, also known as The Dalek, is part of a major office and residential development and the region's tallest building; it can be seen for miles around. Among other Skyscrapers the 37-storeySky Plaza to the north of the city centre stands on higher ground so that its 106 metres (348 ft) is higher than Bridgewater Place.
The majority of people in Leeds identify themselves as Christian. Leeds does not have a Church of England Cathedral because Leeds is part of the Anglican Diocese of Ripon and Leeds and the Cathedral for this Diocese is in Ripon, although theBishop's residence has been in Leeds since 2008. The most important Anglican church is Leeds Minster, although St. George's has the largest congregation by far. Leeds has a Roman Catholic Cathedral, the Episcopal seat of theRoman Catholic Diocese of Leeds.
Many other Christian denominations and new religious movements are established in Leeds, including Assembly of God, Baptist, Christian Scientist, Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ("LDS Church"; see also Mormon), Community of Christ,Greek Orthodox, Jehovah's Witnesses, Jesus Army, Lutheran, Methodist, Nazarene, Newfrontiers network, Pentecostal,Salvation Army, Seventh-Day Adventist, Society of Friends ("Quakers"), Unitarian, United Reformed, Vineyard, Wesleyan Church, an ecumenical Chinese church, and several independent churches.
The proportion of Muslims in Leeds is average for the country. Mosques can be found throughout the city, serving Muslim communities in Chapeltown, Harehills, Hyde Park and parts of Beeston. The largest mosque is Leeds Grand Mosque in Hyde Park. The Sikh community is represented bygurudwaras (temples) spread across the city, the largest being in Chapeltown. There is also a colourful religious annual procession, called the Nagar Kirtan, into Millennium Square in the city centre on 13–14 April to celebrate Baisakhi – the Sikh New Year and the birth of the religion. It is estimated that around 3,000 Sikhs in Leeds take part in this annual event.
Leeds' Jewish community is the third-largest in the United Kingdom, after London and Greater Manchester. The areas ofAlwoodley and Moortown contain sizeable Jewish populations. There are eight active synagogues in Leeds.
The small Hindu community in Leeds has a temple (mandir) at Hyde Park. The temple has all the major Hindu deities and is dedicated to the Lord Mahavira of the Jains. Various Buddhist traditions are represented in Leeds, including: Soka Gakkai, Theravada, Tibetan, Triratna Buddhist Community and Zen. The Buddhist community (sangha) comes together to celebrate the major festival of Wesak in May. There is also a community of the Bahai Faith in Leeds.
Water supply and sewerage services in Leeds are provided by Yorkshire Water, part of the Kelda Group. Prior to 1973 it had been provided by the Leeds Corporation. Leeds City Council has a target of 11MW of renewable energy from onshore wind by 2010 and an aspirational target of 75MW by 2020. There are currently no operational wind farms in Leeds, but a planning application by Banks Renewables Ltd for five turbines at Hook Moor near Micklefield was approved in 2011.
The area is policed by the West Yorkshire Police. The force has five policing districts covering the West Yorkshire area, one of which covers Leeds. The Leeds District Headquarters is located at Elland Road in the South of the City. In the North West of the City the main stations are Weetwood and Woodhouse Lane; in the North East the main stations are Stainbeck near Chapel Allerton and Killingbeck; in the South the main stations are Leeds Central located on Park Street in the City Centre and the District Headquarters itself. Fire and rescue services are provided by the West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service. The fire stations in Leeds are: Cookridge,Gipton, Hunslet, Stanks, Moortown, and the "Leeds" fire station (near city centre, on Kirkstall Road).
Health services are provided by the Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, Leeds Primary Care Trust and Leeds and York Partnership NHS Foundation Trust which provides mental health services. Leeds General Infirmary ("LGI") is alisted building with more recent additions and is in the city centre. St James's University Hospital, known locally as "Jimmy's"
is to the north east of the city centre and is the largest teaching hospital in Europe. Other NHS hospitals are Chapel Allerton Hospital, Seacroft Hospital, Wharfedale Hospital in Otley, and Leeds Dental Institute. The new NHS Leeds Website provides information on NHS services in Leeds.
West Yorkshire Joint Services provides analytical, archaeological, archives, ecology, materials testing and trading standards services in Leeds and the other four districts of West Yorkshire. It was created following the abolition of the county council in 1986 and expanded in 1997, and is funded by the five district councils, pro rata to their population. The Leeds site of the archives service is in the former public library at Sheepscar, Leeds.