The City of Bradford is a local government district of West Yorkshire, England, with the status of a city and metropolitan borough. It is named after its largest settlement, Bradford, but covers a far larger area which includes the towns of Keighley, Shipley, Bingley, Ilkley, Haworth, Silsden and Denholme. Bradford has a population of 528,155, making it the fourth-most populous metropolitan district and the sixth-most populous local authority district in England. It forms part of the West Yorkshire Urban Area conurbation which in 2001 had a population of 1.5 million and the city is part of the Leeds-Bradford Larger Urban Zone (LUZ), which, with a population of 2,393,300, is the fourth largest in the United Kingdom after London, Birmingham and Manchester.
The city is situated on the edge of the Pennines, and is bounded to the east by the City of Leeds, the south east by the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees and the south west by the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale. The Pendle borough of Lancashire lies to the west, whilst the Craven and Harrogate boroughs of North Yorkshire lie to the north west and north east of the city. Bradford is the 4th largest metropolitan district in the country, and the contiguous urban area to the north which includes the towns of Shipley and Bingley is heavily populated. The spa town of Ilkley lies further north, whilst the town of Keighley lies to the west. Roughly two thirds of the district is rural, with an environment varying from moorlands in the north and west, to valleys and floodplains formed by the river systems that flow throughout the district. More than half of Bradford’s land is green open space, stretching over part of the Airedale and Wharfedale Valleys, across the hills and the Pennine moorland between. The Yorkshire Dales and the Peak District are both in close proximity.
The City of Bradford has architecture designated as being of special or historic importance, most of which were constructed with local stone, with 5,800 listed buildings and 59 conservation areas. The model village of Saltaire has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Central Bradford rose to prominence during the 19th century as an international centre of textile manufacture, particularly wool. The area's access to a supply of coal, iron ore and soft water facilitated the growth of Bradford's manufacturing base, which, as textile manufacture grew, led to an explosion in population and was a stimulus to civic investment. However, Bradford has faced similar challenges to the rest of the post-industrial area of northern England, including deindustrialisation, housing problems, and economic deprivation. Wool and textiles still play an important part in the city's economy, but today's fastest-growing sectors include information technology, financial services, digital industries, environmental technologies, cultural industries, tourism and retail headquarters and distribution. Bradford's reputation as a base for high technology, scientific and computer-based industries is growing, building on a long tradition of innovation, high skill levels and quality products.
Bradford has experienced significant levels of immigration throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. In the 1840s Bradford's population was significantly increased by migrants from Ireland, particularly rural Mayo and Sligo, and by 1851 around 18,000 people of Irish origin resided in the town, representing around 10% of the population, the largest proportion in Yorkshire. Around the same time there was also an influx of German Jewish migrants to the town, and by 1910 around 1,500 people of German origin resided in the city. In the 1950s there was large scale immigration from South Asia and to a lesser extent from Poland. Bradford has the second highest proportion in England and Wales outside London, in terms of population (behind Birmingham) and fifth in percentage (behind Slough, Leicester, Luton and Blackburn with Darwen). An estimated 101,967 people of South Asian origin reside in the city, representing around 19.9 of the city's population.
The City of Bradford is situated on the edge of the Pennines, and is bounded to the east by the City of Leeds, the south east by the Metropolitan Borough of Kirklees and the south west by the Metropolitan Borough of Calderdale. The Lancashire borough of Pendle lies to the west, whilst North Yorkshire boroughs of Craven and Harrogate lie to the north west and north east respectively. Bradford district has 3636 hectares of upland heathland, including Ilkley Moor where the peat bogs rise to 402 m (1,319 ft) above sea level. Less than 5% of the Bradford district is woodland. Greenspace accounts for 73.8% of the City of Bradford's total area, domestic buildings and gardens comprise 12.1%, and the rest is made up of roads and non-domestic buildings.
Three river systems serve the City of Bradford, along with 23 km of canal. The Airedale towns of Keighley, Bingley and Shipley lie on the River Aire. The River Wharfe runs through Ilkley and Burley in Wharfedale, and tributaries of the River Calder run through the district. Unusually for a major settlement, Bradford is not built on any substantial body of water. The ford from which it takes its name (Broad-Ford) was a crossing of the stream called Bradford Beck.
Brontë Country is an area including Western parts of the City as well as the area to the west. The City of Bradford includes the town of Haworth and the village of Thornton, the birthplace of the Brontë sisters.
Keighley and Worth Valley Railway, Ilkley’s Cow and Calf Rocks, Bradford’s National Media Museum, Bradford City Park, Cartwright Hall, Saltaire village (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Salts Mill are key attractions that draw visitors from across the globe.
The City of Bradford has also become the first UNESCO City of Film.
Annual events such as the Bradford Film Festival, Bradford Festival, Bradford Mela, Bingley Music Live, Ilkley Literature Festival, Haworth’s 1940s weekend, Saltaire Festival and special Christmas events take place across the district.
The value of tourism to the district’s economy stands at more than £500 million a year, with an estimated 8.6 million day trips within the district. The impact of this is more than 13,500 jobs supported by the tourism and retail sector.