Visiting football fans still like to taunt Scousers with tired old chants about signing on, slums and “eating rat in your council house”, but the lazy stereotypes of the city simply don’t apply any more.
Unemployment has dropped to 5%, the Duke of Westminster’s massive investment programme has transformed the Duke Street warehouse area into ‘Liverpool One’ – a top-quality shopping and socialising destination as fine as any in England – and being the 2008 European Capital of Culture brought in vast investment, helping to raise the profile of the city’s superb arts and music scene.
Liverpool’s phenomenal nightclubs have always been on a par with Manchester, but it can now rival its neighbour for restaurants, bars and boutiques, too. What’s more, the city’s museums and galleries are unrivalled anywhere in the country, bar London.
There’s more than enough to do here to pass a long weekend: stroll around the thriving Albert Dock and visit the Tate Gallery and fascinating International Slavery Museum, see a gig at the Liverpool Arena or hear the Philharmonic Orchestra play, take the ferry across the Mersey, wander around the city’s two cathedrals and have a bite to eat in Europe’s oldest Chinatown.
Then there are the two things that have always brought tourists here: football and the Beatles. Strangely, the fortunes of both Reds and Blues have declined almost in inverse proportion to the state of the city itself. And equally, while the Fab Four still cast a shadow (thousands flock annually to see the Cavern Club, and flood the Beatles-themed shops, tours and hotel), Liverpool no longer needs to rely on music and football for its identity. It’s all the better for it.
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