You never would have guessed that I’m a born and bred Mancunian by my fascination with the place. My friends and family think its strange that every time I visit, I’m a tourist in my own city. I’ll spend hours walking the city streets, snapping photographs of pretty buildings, and taking in the city buzz. Everything about Manchester is beautiful and I savour those moments through collections of photographs.
The Northern Quarter is by far my favourite area of Manchester. I spent a large portion of my time there as a kid, soaking up all that the area had to offer impressionable, 16 year old me. As an ode to the Northern Quarter, I spend the last few days rooting through old photo albums and re-visiting some of my favourite hot-spots to show you why I love the place so damn much.
When you get off the train at Manchester Piccadilly and begin walking towards the centre of the city, you begin to feel the energy slowly seeping into your chest and gripping you by the soul. Your overcome with inspiration, wide-eyed and open to artistic expression. That’s really the first thing that you notice when entering the northern quarter – Art.
The walls are literally lined with pieces of art. Every corner you turn, there’s some form of artwork blessing its brickwork. These are just a few of my favourite graffiti pieces – there are so many more. I love the fact that they are kept there too. They’ve not been washed off our painted over – people recognise great artwork and support others expression of it.
Keeping on the topic of support of individual expression – ‘Afflecks Palace’, in the very heart of the Northern Quarter, has been supporting the weird and wonderful since the early 80’s. Afflecks has always been the place to go for alternative things such as clothing, jewellery, artwork, and much more that you can’t find in regular high street stores. But it’s much more than just a store.
They support expression in all its many forms. Whatever your gender, race, or sexual preference – they welcome you with open arms. Its a place for unity, support, and a place for friendships to blossom. I spent countless hours in Afflecks as a kid, drawing all over the walls, buying wacky jewellery, and just hanging around (this was nearly 7 years ago now, I wouldn’t recommend drawing on the walls unless your permitted to!!). My point is that your allowed to be who you want to be – and that is what the Northern Quarter represents.
Manchester is home to the biggest music scene in the UK, playing host to bands such as Oasis, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, etc. You can’t shake that vibe when your in the Northern Quarter – its hidden beneath the concrete slabs your stepping on, vibrating through the bricks surrounding you. The Northern Quarter, especially, embraced alternative musical groups such as The Smiths and Joy Division. These bands who came from Manchester encouraged freedom of expression and individuality in the people of the city. Thankfully it still has that impact on us today many years after these bands have been and gone *sobs*.
I believe the electricity you feel walking the streets of Manchester is all down to its history and the people who live within its history. The Northern Quarter is full of independent shops run by amazing people. The people who run these awesome shops contribute to the Northern Quarter’s unique identity.
Two of my favourite shops in the Northern Quarter sit side by side: ‘Northern Flower’ and ‘Sugar Junction’. Both shops offer such individuality, representing freedom of expression and how successful deviating from the social norms can be.
Northern Flower is honestly the prettiest florist in Manchester, offering the widest range of flowers from succulents all the way to fresh roses. Its truly a delight walking past in the summer and seeing all the flowers perched beneath the sunlight. If you aren’t familiar with Sugar Junction, its a shabby chic themes tea room which serves the cutest afternoon tea’s with the best food catering to meat-eaters, vegetarians, and vegans. If you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting any of these places, then I highly recommend them to you.
Last but not least, the architecture (like the rest of Manchester), is stunning. Although a lot of the Northern Quarter is unfortunately decaying and deteriorating, there is still some serious beauty in it’s remaining buildings. When your walking around the area, you’ll be shocked at how beautiful the buildings are. Many of us forget to stop and look up from our busy lives at the beauty surrounding us. But if you take a second to look close enough, you’ll see just how stunning the architecture is.
I hope you are all feeling inspired to take a trip to the Northern Quarter now! Its true, I really am a tourist in my own city. I’ve visited the place countless times, yet there are still so many nooks and crannies that I have yet to explore.