Seel Street was named after the merchant Thomas Seel, who lived in Hanover Street, as Seel Street was built through his extensive gardens and laid out in 1790, running from Hanover Street to Berry Street.
During the 17th and 18th Century, the land was owned by the Bowler family and was called Rope Street because of the rope walks. The rope walks were used to measure rope from the top to the bottom of Bold Street as that was the length needed for the tunnel ships. The docks were located just further down from Hanover Street in those days. This was one of the first areas in the city to develop when Liverpool was an emerging port and the area soon took on a cosmopolitan feel, being home to many varied occupations including sea captains, merchants, traders and artisans.
Today the area is known as RopeWalks, a reference to the large number of roperies, and has retained its cosmopolitan feel with Bold Street, once the Bond Street of the North, as the centrepiece of the Ropewalks area, boasting a variety of independent boutiques, cafes, bars, clubs, restaurants and the FACT Centre which shows a mix of mainstream and art-house cinema.
Liverpool has a strong maritime history that goes back 800 years. The first wet dock in Britain was built in Liverpool and completed in 1715 and the Liverpool of today owes much to the 1846 construction of the Albert Dock, a stunning architectural triumph, and the construction of numerous wet and dry docks as well as Lime Street Station in 1836 and St. George's Hall in 1854.
The Grand National steeplechase was first run at Aintree in 1837 and Liverpool was granted city status in 1880. In 1904, the building of the Anglican Cathedral began and by 1916 the three Pier Head buildings, including the Liver Building, were complete.
The city is home to the oldest Chinese community in Europe; the first residents of the city's Chinatown arrived as seamen in the 19th Century. The gateway in Liverpool's Chinatown is the largest gateway outside of China.
Liverpool has one of the oldest Jewish communities in England, dating back to the mid-18th century, and is home to Britain's oldest Black community: some Black Liverpudlians are able to trace their ancestors in the city back ten generations. Early Black settlers in the city included seamen, the children of traders sent to be educated and freed slaves, since slaves entering the country after 1722 were deemed free men.
During World War II, there were 80 air-raids on Merseyside. John Lennon, one of the founding members of The Beatles, was born in Liverpool during an air-raid on October 9, 1940.
Since the mid-1990s, an economic and civic revival has been underway. Liverpool's economy has grown faster than the national average and in recent years, the city has emphasised its cultural attractions. Tourism has become a significant factor in Liverpool's economy and in June 2003, Liverpool won the right to be named European Capital of Culture for 2008 and since then has witnessed huge investment and growth and is now one of the top tourist destinations in the UK. The riverfront and adjoining areas of the city were also designated as a World Heritage Site in 2004.
In 2010, Liverpool was listed in the top three UK city break destinations for the second year running by readers of Condé Nast Traveller Magazine. This was based on the quality of local architecture, with Liverpool having the highest number of listed buildings outside London, as well as culture, restaurants, nightlife, local hospitality, accommodation, safety and value for money. Liverpool also has more national museums and galleries than any English city other than London, with National Museums Liverpool as England's only national collection based outside London.