Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's West Central Lowlands. Glasgow grew from a small rural settlement on the River Clyde to become one of the largest seaports in Britain. Expanding from the medieval bishopric of Glasgow and the later establishment of the University of Glasgow in the 15th century, it became a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment in the 18th century. From the 18th century the city also grew as one of Britain's main hubs of transatlantic trade with British North America and the British West Indies. With the Industrial Revolution, the city and surrounding region shifted to become one of the world's pre-eminent centres of heavy engineering, most notably in shipbuilding and marine engineering industry, which produced many innovative and famous vessels. Glasgow was known as the "Second City of the British Empire" for much of the Victorian era and Edwardian period. Today it is one of Europe's top ten financial centres and is home to many of Scotland's leading businesses. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries Glasgow grew in population,and was the fourth-largest city in Europe, after London, Paris and Berlin. Much of this population growth was due to vast Irish Catholic immigration from Ireland in the second half of the nineteenth century and early twentieth century. In the 1960s, comprehensive urban renewal projects resulting in large-scale relocation of people to new towns and peripheral suburbs, followed by successive boundary changes, have reduced the current population of the City of Glasgow.
George Square - a part of the innovative Georgian central grid plan, laid out in 1781. This grid iron masterplan was largely the work of the notable contemporary architects James Barry, James Craig and James Gillespie Graham. For the first few years however it was little more than a muddy hollow, filled with dirty water and used for slaughtering horses. Between 1787 and the 1820s, the square was eventually opened up and lined with Georgian townhouses at its east and west ends, as well as hotels. 1842 saw the opening of Queen Street Station as the Glasgow terminus of the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway. By 1850 the surrounding area had become a centre for mercantile activity, with the Merchants House moving to the square in 1877, and the square itself, which had been developed into a private garden for the surrounding townhouses, became an established public space, after frequent disturbances and pulling down of railings by a disgruntled mob. The square was named after George III, a statue of whom was originally intended to occupy the centre of the square, but the turmoil and anxiety caused to the city's Tobacco Lords by the War of American Independence in 1775 and eventual British defeat in 1783, coupled with his ever more frequent bouts of madness had created mixed feelings toward the Hanoverian and so it was decided instead to commemorate Sir Walter Scott, which, incidentally, was the first ever memorial dedicated to him. Today the east side of the square is dominated by the ornate Glasgow City Chambers, headquarters of Glasgow City Council, which opened in 1888. On the South side are a number of buildings, including the former General Post Office, a Chicago-style office building, dating from 1924 and there is also the city's main Tourist Information Centre. The North side consists of Queen Street Station, the North British Railway Hotel which date from the 1840s, and George House, which replaced an older Georgian building, built in 1979 to provide extra office space for Glasgow City Council, and now the offices of Ernst & Young. The western side is a location of the former Bank of Scotland building, which is now offices and a Wetherspoons restaurant and bar. The eastern side of the square itself is flanked by two lawns and is also the site of the city's Cenotaph, which was designed by JJ Burnet and originally built to commemorate Glaswegians killed in the First World War when it was erected in 1922 by the Earl Haig Fund.
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