Newcastle upon Tyne, often simply Newcastle, is the most populous city and metropolitan borough in North East England. It forms the core of the Tyneside conurbation. The city is situated on the River Tyne's northern bank, approximately 8.5 miles from the North Sea.
Newcastle developed around a Roman settlement called Pons Aelius and the settlement later took the name of a castle built in 1080 by William the Conqueror's eldest son, Robert Curthose. Historically, Newcastle's economy was dependent on its port. In particular, its status as one of the world's largest ship building and repair centres.
Today, the city's economy is diverse with major economic output in science, finance, retail, education, tourism, and nightlife. Newcastle is one of the UK Core Cities, as well as part of the Eurocities network.
Famous landmarks in Newcastle include the Tyne Bridge; the Swing Bridge; the Millennium Bridge; Newcastle Castle; Grey's Monument; and the Theatre Royal. Culturally, Newcastle is famed for its nightlife; bakery chain Greggs; and Newcastle United Football Club.
Newcastle was part of the county of Northumberland until 1400, when it became a county of itself. The city and the surrounding area created the new metropolitan county of Tyne and Wear in 1974. Newcastle is locally governed by Newcastle City Council.
Newcastle played a major role during the 19th century Industrial Revolution, and was a leading centre for coal mining, shipbuilding, engineering, munitions and manufacturing. Heavy industries in Newcastle declined in the second half of the 20th century; with office, service and retail employment now becoming the city's staples.
Newcastle is the commercial, educational and the cultural hub of North East England. Today, Newcastle's economy contributes around £13 billion to the UK GVA. This figure is mostly produced by corporate activity in Newcastle's Central Business District, located in the centre of the city (bounded by the Haymarket, Central Station and the Quayside areas).
The city's thriving nightlife is estimated to be worth £340 million per year, and consequently is seen as a major contributor to Newcastle's economy.
The UK's first biotechnology village, the Centre for Life, is located by Central Station. The village is the first step in the City Council's plans to transform Newcastle into a science city.
Retail In 2010, Newcastle was positioned ninth in the retail centre expenditure league of the UK. There are several major shopping areas in Newcastle City Centre. The largest of these is the Eldon Square Shopping Centre, one of the largest city centre shopping complexes in the UK. It incorporates a Debenhams store as well as other major stores including Apple, Hollister and Guess. It also houses one of the largest John Lewis & Partners stores in the UK. This John Lewis branch was formerly known as Bainbridge, established in 1838, often cited as the world's first department store.
The main shopping street in the city is Northumberland Street. In a 2004 report, it was ranked as the most expensive shopping street in the UK for rent, outside London. It is home to two major department stores including the first and largest Fenwick department store, which houses some of the most luxurious designer labels, and one of the largest Marks and Spencer stores outside London. Both stores have entrances into Eldon Square Shopping Centre.
Other shopping destinations in Newcastle include Grainger Street and the area around Grey's Monument, the relatively modern Eldon Garden and Monument Mall complexes, Central Arcade and the traditional Grainger Market. On Blackett Street can be found the silversmith Reid & Sons which was established in the city in 1788. Outside the city centre, the largest suburban shopping areas are Gosforth and Byker. The largest Tesco store in the United Kingdom is located in Kingston Park on the edge of Newcastle. Close to Newcastle, the largest indoor shopping centre in Europe, the MetroCentre, is located in Gateshead.
Newcastle upon Tyne is rated Sufficiency by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network (GaWC) which evaluates and ranks the relationships between world cities in the context of globalisation. Sufficiency level cities are cities that have a sufficient degree of services so as not to be overly dependent on world cities.
Newcastle upon Tyne is rated E+ by the Global Urban Competitiveness Report (GUCR) which evaluates and ranks world cities in the context of economic competitiveness. E+ cities are strong regional gateway cities. Newcastle upon Tyne has a population of over 293,000 people. Newcastle upon Tyne also forms part of the wider Tyneside metropolitan area which has a population of over 1,599,000 people.