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Portsmouth - England
Portsmouth is the second largest city in Hampshire on the south coast of England. Portsmouth is notable for being the only island city in the United Kingdom being it is located mainly on Portsea Island. It is situated 64 miles or 103 kilometers south west of London and 19 miles or 31 kilometers south east from Southampton. As an important naval port for several centuries, Portsmouth is home to the oldest dry dock still in use in the world and also home to some famous ships including the HMS Warrior, the Mary Rose and Lord Nelson's flagship the HMS Victory. Although smaller than in its prime, the naval base remains a major dockyard and base for the Royal Navy and Royal Marine Commandos whose Headquarters is located at the port. There is also a thriving commercial ferryport serving destinations on the continent for freight and passenger traffic.
The City of Portsmouth has a striking recent addition to the city's skyline called The Spinnaker Tower. It can be found in the redeveloped former HMS Vernon, an area of retail outlets, restaurants, clubs and bars now known as Gunwharf Quays. Gunwharf Quays is an area of Portsmouth, Hampshire, now home to a large shopping centre. The centre opened on 28 February 2001 and is located on the site of the former Royal Navy shore establishment HMS Vernon, renamed HMS Nelson (Vernon Site) on March 31, 1986. In 1987, the establishment was renamed HMS Nelson (Gunwharf) although locally it continued to be known as HMS Vernon. The concept for the redevelopment was by the local firm HGP Architects. Its very successful exploitation of its harbour-side situation and the sympathetic integration of old and new architecture makes an interesting contrast with past redevelopments such as the Tricorn Center. The center contains 95 designer shopping outlets as well as 25 bars and restaurants and the Spinnaker Tower. There is also a 14-screen Vue cinema, a Bowlplex bowling centre with 26 lanes, 2 bars and 13 American sized pool tables, a Jongleurs comedy club, which turns into a nightclub after 10pm, a Tiger Tiger nightclub, a contemporary art gallery, as well as a 120 bed hotel. There is also a 26 story Skyscraper called Number One (aka: Lipstick Tower), built to resemble a funnel. This creates a seafaring composition with the existing sail-like Spinnaker Tower. There are numerous bars, cafes and restaurants located by the waterfront with a view of shipping movements into Portsmouth Harbour.
The Spinnaker Tower is a 170-metre or 560 foot–high landmark tower. It is the centerpiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residents from a selection of concepts. The tower, designed by local firm, HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth's maritime history by being modelled after a sail. After several years of delays and cost overruns, it was opened on 18 October 2005.
It is the only city in England with a greater population density than London with the Portsmouth Urban Area including Fareham, Portchester, Gosport, Havant. Portsmouth is the 14th largest urban area in the United Kingdom with an estimated population of nearly a half million residents. Portsmouth combines with Southampton to form a single metropolitan area with a population over a million making it one of the United Kingdom's most populous metropolitan areas. Most of the city of Portsmouth lies on Portsea Island, located where the Solent joins the English Channel. The island is separated from the mainland to the north by a narrow creek, bridged in places to make it a peninsula in appearance. The sheltered Portsmouth Harbor lies to the west of the island and the large tidal bay of Langstone Harbour is to the east. Portsdown Hill dominates the skyline to the north, providing a magnificent panoramic view over the city, and to the south are the waters of the Solent with the Isle of Wight beyond. Being a seaside city, it is low-lying with the majority of its surface area being only about ten feet above sea level. The highest natural point on Portsea Island is Kingston Cross which lies at 21 feet above sea level. There are ever present dangers that rising sea levels, as a result of global warming, could cause serious damage to the city. The west of the city is mainly council estates such as Buckland, Landport and Portsea. These were built to replace Victorian terraces destroyed by bombing during the Second World War. After the war the massive estate of Leigh Park, one of the largest housing developments of its kind in Europe, was built to solve the chronic housing shortage during the post-war reconstruction. Since the early 2000s the estate has been entirely under the jurisdiction of Havant Borough Council, but Portsmouth City Council remains the landlord for these properties, thus making it the biggest landowner in Havant Borough. Part of Old Portsmouth, the oldest part of the city, was known as Spice Island. Literally outside of the law once the city gates were closed, it was infamous for its pubs and other establishments that attracted sailors on their runs ashore.
The city is also host to the European headquarters of IBM, and the UK headquarters of Zurich Financial Services, and of Northrop Grumman. Over the last decade the number of shops in Portsmouth has grown dramatically due to both the buoyancy of the local economy and improved transportation links. In the city center, shopping is centered around Commercial Road and the 1980s Cascades Shopping Center, with over 100 high street shops between them. Recent re-development has created new shopping areas, including the upmarket Gunwharf Quays, containing fashion stores, restaurants, and a cinema; and the Historic Dockyard, which aims at the tourist sector and holds regular French markets, and an annual Christmas market. Large shopping areas include Ocean Retail Park, on the north-eastern side of Portsea Island, comprising shops requiring large floor space for selling consumer goods; and the Bridge Center an 11,043 square meter shopping center built in 1988, now dominated by the Asda Walmart store. There are also many smaller shopping areas throughout the city. Tourism is a growing sector of the economy, with the harbor and the Spinnaker Tower being amongst the largest attractions. There is also a small fishing fleet based in the city. The city center is the main shopping area in Portsmouth situated around the shopping streets of Commercial Road, Edinburgh Road, Arundel Street, Crasswell Street and Charlotte Street. The City Center is home to the Cascades Shopping Center and major high street stores including Debenhams, Wilkinson, Primark, H&M and the supermarkets Tesco, Sainsburys and Iceland. To the north of the city center is the Victory Retail Park. Portsmouth and Southsea railway station is located to the south of the city center, close to the Guildhall and the civic offices. Just to the south of the Guildhall is Guildhall Walk, a street which is known for its bars and clubs, such as Walkabout, VBar, Pure, and Babylon - a club that only plays music from the 90s.
Located on Edinburgh Road is the Portsmouth Roman Catholic Cathedral and Victoria Park, also to the west of the city center is the home ground of Portsmouth's second football team United Services Portsmouth Football Club. The most significant development project is at the Northern Quarter, centered on the former Tricorn site, which will form a new regional shopping destination providing new shops, cafés and restaurants. The climate of Portsmouth is much milder than that of the surrounding areas, winter frosts being light and short-lived and snow being quite rare. Temperatures rarely drop much below freezing, as the city is surrounded by water and densely populated. Portsdown Hill also protects the city from the cold northerly winds during the winter months. Summer temperatures can also be higher than in some other south coast cities due to the "urban heat effect", where heat is reflected and retained by buildings.
Located on the south coast, Portsmouth also receives more sunshine per annum than most of the UK. The average maximum temperature in January is 10°C with the average minimum being 5°C. The average maximum temperature in July is 22°C, with the average minimum being 15°C. The record high temperature is 35°C and record low is −8°C. Portsmouth has two theaters – both designed by the Victorian/Edwardian architect and entrepreneur Frank Matcham. The New Theatre Royal in Guildhall Walk near to the City Centre, specializes in classical, modern and avant-garde drama and the newly-restored Kings Theatre in Southsea's Albert Road has many amateur musicals as well an increasing number of national tours. Other venues include the Third Floor Arts Venue in the Central Library and the South Parade Pier, as well as the Portsmouth Guildhall itself, which hosts numerous musical events and an extensive annual programme of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and is on the national touring circuit of well known singers and groups. The city has three established music venues: The Wedgewood Rooms, The Pyramids and The Guildhall, an imposing neoclassical building designed by architect William Hill and based on an earlier design used for the town hall in Bolton.
Since the late 1970s only three acts from the city have made the Top 40 of the UK Singles Chart: the critically acclaimed indie/rock bands The Cranes and Ricky; plus the novelty pop act Same Difference. For many years a series of symphony concerts has been presented at the Guildhall by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. In 1979, 1982, 1985, 1988 and 1991 the city was host to a major international string quartet competition, whose winners included the Takacs (Hungary), Endellion (UK), Hagen (Austria) and Ysaÿe (France) quartets. The competition subsequently moved to London. The Portsmouth Sinfonia (1970–1979) approached classical music from a different angle. Portsmouth also runs its own series of concerts encompassing a range of music at the Bandstand in Southsea Common. The city is also proud of its vibrant south Asian community, from where Bollywood starlet Geeta Basra hails.
She was born and raised in the city, where her family still live. The City hosts yearly remembrances of the D-Day landings to which veterans from the Allied nations travel to attend. The City played a major part in the 50th D-Day anniversary with then US President Bill Clinton visiting the city. In literature, Portsmouth is the chief location for Jonathan Meades' novel Pompey, in which it is inhabited largely by vile, corrupt, flawed freaks. He has subsequently admitted that he had never actually visited the city at that time. Since then he has presented a TV programme about the Victorian architecture in Portsmouth Dockyard. In Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park, Portsmouth is the hometown of the main character Fanny Price, and is the setting of most of the closing chapters of the book. In Dickens' Nicholas Nickleby, the hero and Smike make their way to Portsmouth and get involved in a theatrical troupe. Graham Hurley's D.I. Faraday/D.C. Winter novels are all located in the city and its surrounding area.
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