A walled city, situated at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss in North Yorkshire, England. The city has a rich heritage and has provided the backdrop to major political events throughout much of its two millennia of existence.
The city was founded by the Romans in 71 AD. They called it Eboracum, a name perhaps derived from one used by the British tribes who inhabited the area. The Romans made it the capital of their Province of Britannia Inferior. At the end of Roman rule in 415 AD the settlement was taken over by the Angles and the city was renamed Eoforwic. It served as the capital of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria. When the Vikings captured the city in 866 AD they renamed it Jórvík and it became the capital of a wider kingdom of the same name covering much of Northern England. After the Norman conquest, the name "York", which was first used in the 13th century, gradually evolved. In the Middle Ages York grew as a major wool trading centre and the ecclesiastical capital of the northern province of England. The Province of York is still one of the two Church of England ecclesiastical provinces, alongside that of Canterbury.
York's location on the River Ouse, in the centre of the Vale of York and half way between the capitals of London and Edinburgh means that it has long had a significant position in the nation's transport system. The 19th century saw York, under the influence of George Hudson, become an important hub of the railway network and a manufacturing centre. In recent decades, the economy of York has moved from being dominated by its confectionery and railway-related industries to one that provides services. The University of York and health services have become major employers. Tourism also boosts the local economy because the city offers a wealth of historic attractions, of which York Minster is the most prominent, and a variety of cultural activities. York Racecourse and Kit Kat Crescent, the home of York City F.C., are the most prominent sporting venues in the city and the River Ouse provides opportunities for both sporting and leisure pursuits.
From 1996, the term City of York describes a unitary authority area which includes rural areas beyond the old city boundaries. In 2001 the urban area had a population of 137,505, while in 2007 the entire unitary authority had an estimated population of 193,300. York Minster, the second largest Gothic cathedral in northern Europe, stands at the city's centre. York's centre is enclosed by the city's medieval walls, which are a popular walk. The entire circuit is about 3 miles (5 km), including a part where walls never existed, because the Norman moat of York Castle, formed by damming the River Foss, also created a lake which acted as a city defence. This lake was later called the King's Fishpond, as the rights to fish belonged to the Crown.
Clifford's Tower, a stone quatrefoil keep built on top of a Norman motte, was the site of a massacre in 1190 when the small Jewish community of York sought protection in the tower on the feast of Shabbat ha-Gadol. Many Jews took their own lives rather than face a violent mob in an event regarded as one of the most notorious examples of antisemitism in medieval England.
A feature of central York is the Snickelways, narrow pedestrian routes, many of which led towards the former market-places in Pavement and Sampson Square. The Shambles is a narrow medieval street, lined with shops, boutiques and tea rooms. Most of these premises were once butchers' shops, and the hooks from which carcasses were hung and the shelves on which meat was laid out can still be seen outside some of them. The street also contains the Shrine of Margaret Clitherow, although it is not located in the house where she lived. Goodramgate has many medieval houses including the 14th century Lady's Row built to finance a Chantry, at the edge of the churchyard of Holy Trinity church.
The city has many museums, including the Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum and Museum Gardens, JORVIK Viking Centre, the York Art Gallery, Richard III Museum, the Merchant Adventurers' Hall, the medieval house Barley Hall owned by the York Archaeological Trust, Fairfax House owned by the York Civic Trust and the Treasurer's House owned by the National Trust. The National Railway Museum is situated just beyond the station, and is home to a vast range of transport material and the largest collection of railway locomotives in the world. Included in this collection are the world's fastest steam locomotive LNER 4468 Mallard and the world famous 4472 Flying Scotsman, which is being overhauled in the Museum.
York is noted for its numerous churches and pubs. Most of the remaining churches in York are from the medieval period. St William's College behind the Minster, and Bedern Hall, off Goodramgate, are former dwelling places of the canons of the Minster.