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The neighbourhood guide to Spinningfields

Spinningfields, a district off Deansgate in Manchester city centre, has only existed in its current form for about 20 years or so. Conceived and developed by property company Allied London in the mid-2000s, it’s Manchester’s answer to Canary Wharf; a sleek, tidy corporate district that’s home to multinational businesses, luxury apartments, and a good range of restaurants and bars.

Even discarding the national chains, you’ve plenty of options for places to eat in Spinningfields, ranging from laidback coffee haunt Federal to glitzy crowd-puller The Ivy and Instagram favourite 20 Stories.

But there’s more to the area than its well-dressed crowds and the shiny new regenerated square. It’s also got a fascinating history – and is home to one of Manchester’s most notable buildings, John Rylands Library.

Back in the 19th century, Spinningfields was known as District 13 and had a reputation as one of the roughest parts of Manchester. The many pubs doubled up as brothels and the number of urchins begging on the streets led to the creation of the charity Wood Street Mission, which is still in its original premises.

When John Rylands Library opened on New Year’s Day 1900 it was in part an effort to bring culture and education to this rundown area. We wonder what the library’s founder Enriqueta Rylands would make of the district as it is today.

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