Manchester city centre evolved from the civilian vicus of the Roman fort of Mamucium, on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell. This became the township of Manchester during the Middle Ages, and was the site of the Peterloo Massacre of 1819. Manchester was granted city status in 1853, after the Industrial Revolution, from which the city centre emerged as the global centre of the cotton trade which encouraged its "splendidly imposing commercial architecture" during the Victorian era, such as the Royal Exchange, the Corn Exchange, the Free Trade Hall, and the Great Northern Warehouse. After the decline of the cotton trade and the Manchester Blitz, the city centre suffered economic decline during the mid-20th century, but the CIS Tower ranked as the tallest building in the UK when completed in 1962.
The city centre acts as the transport interchange for Greater Manchester and over 7 million people live within an hour's drive of it. The 1996 Manchester bombing provided the impetus for the redevelopment of the city centre and an upturn in retail, leisure, offices and urban living. The economy of the city centre is built primarily on retail and services, accounting for nearly 40% of Grade A city centre office space outside London.
Manchester evolved from the civilian vicus associated with the Roman fort of Mamucium, which was established c. AD 79 on a sandstone bluff near the confluence of the rivers Medlock and Irwell, in a position defensible from the Brigantes. Once the Romans had abandoned Britain, the focus of settlement shifted to the confluence of the rivers Irwell and Irk. During the Dark Ages which followed – and persisted until the Norman Conquest – the settlement was in the territory of several different petty kingdoms. In the Middle Ages, what is now the city centre was the township of Manchester.
Manchester Castle – a medieval fortification, probably taking the form of a ringwork – was located on a bluff where the rivers Irk and Irwell meet. The castle was first mentioned in 1184 and recorded in 1215 as belonging to the barons of Manchester, the Grelley family. It has been described as "of no political or military importance". The Grelleys replaced the castle with a fortified manor house, which in turn was replaced by a college of priests (founded in 1421). In 1547 the college was dissolved and the property acquired by the Earl of Derby and early in the reign of King Charles II it was sold to the governors who had been appointed in the will of Humphrey Chetham. By royal charter in 1665 Chetham's Hospital was established and this became Chetham's School of Music.
Manchester city centre is the commercial and cultural hub for 2.7 million people in the Greater Manchester region and new developments are forthcoming.