With Scotland's biggest city regenerated, it is time to rediscover Glasgow.
When Glasgow was forced to address the decline of its traditional industries, city fathers became aware it needed to reinvent itself. Decades on, Glasgow stands proud again as a world-class destination and one of the best examples of urban regeneration in existence.
From the late 1960s, Glasgow suffered a slump caused by competition in industries like ship building. The River Clyde, which once saw the construction of renowned Cunard shipping line vessels such as the QE2 and the Royal Yacht Britannia, was a shadow of its former self. If you walked these same quay sides today, the only thing you would recognise is the water.
The regeneration of the River Clyde corridor, through both public and private investment, has changed Glasgow beyond recognition. Architecturally bold structures like the Glasgow Science Centre, IMAX Cinema, Glasgow Tower, the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC) and the Clyde Arc and Tradeston Bridges have altered the waterfront skyline with striking effect.
New business districts with modern residential and office space have replaced empty yards and have been linked to the bustling centre by pedestrian paths and cycle ways. A new lifestyle has been introduced to the river, through quality hotels and retail esplanades such as the impressive Braehead Shopping Centre.
The coming of the Commonwealth Games in 2014 is set to stimulate further development of the Clyde waterway. This includes the building of a £125 million national arena at the SECC and a National Indoor Arena and Velodrome and Athletes' Village in the east of Glasgow.
Not only has the recent transformation made Glasgow a place to rediscover, modern industries on the Clyde waterfront are driving growth. The most noteworthy examples are the International Financial Services District (IFSD) at Broomielaw and the Digital Media Quarter on Pacific Quay.
Since the beginning of the £1 billion, ten-year project to create a financial services hub in Glasgow, the derelict dockside of Broomielaw has become home to 15,000 new jobs and some of the biggest blue chip financial companies on the planet.
Morgan Stanley, JP Morgan, National Australia Group, esure, BNP Paribas and Aon are now located in a 1 square km stretch between St Vincent Street and the River Clyde. One in thirteen employees in Glasgow now work in financial services. The success of the district has contributed significantly to a 32% growth rate in jobs city-wide since 2000.
"We want the waterfront to be a great place to work, to live and to enjoy leisure and lifestyle," says Mark Barton, Marketing Manager of Clyde Waterfront Strategic Partnership . "The IFSD has been hugely successful in bringing overseas investment and new jobs. In recent years, along the waterfront, there has been over 18,000 new jobs created, 8500 new homes built and 320,000 square metres of commercial space constructed. There is also å£1.5 billion of further investment committed."
Like the IFSD, the Pacific Quay developments have changed the look and the economy of Glasgow. The construction of the £20.3 million Clyde Arc Bridge or 'Squinty' bridge in 2006 linked Finnieston with Pacific Quay.
The improved road access led to the development of a digital media quarter, with the BBC relocating in 2007 to a new £188 million Headquarters on Prince's Dock, equipped with the latest digital technology and visitor facilities. Also based in the digital quarter are Scottish Media Group, Galaxy FM, Shed Media Scotland, Digital Design Studio and Film City Glasgow, makers of movies such as Red Road and Hallam Foe.
A site left vacant following the Glasgow Garden Festival, Pacific Quay is now a vibrant creative sector. "There were previously areas of derelict land because of the decline of ship building but if you were to take a trip along the river now, you would see an impressive landscape," adds Barton. "The regeneration of the Waterfront is something Glasgow's residents are extremely proud of."
It is not only redevelopment close to the city centre which is changing Glasgow. Regeneration company Clydebank Re-built has won awards for transforming the former John Brown shipyard.
A ten-year £235 million plan has seen the William Arrol-designed Titan crane established as a popular visitor attraction. A new Clydebank College building and business sector is improving skills and prospects in an area previously associated with low opportunity.
With the opening of the new Riverside Museum at Glasgow Harbour in 2011 set to reinforce Glasgow's reputation as a tourism hotspot, what was once 'the second city of the British Empire' is a story of success and one that is set to run and run.