Belfast's University area and the booming Cathedral Quarter both show the city's energy, while the City Hall, opened in 1906, is a solid testimony to the ambition of the city fathers in other times.
In the City Hall grounds is a monument to Edward Harland who with his partner Gustav Wolff built the great shipyards where RMS Titanic was launched.
“There never was a more unlikely place to build a shipyard,” says historian Ken McElroy. “We had very little raw material – the steel had to be imported from Scotland – but we had a great Presbyterian spirit. It was a very radical place and the Presbyterians were also into education – we have one of the oldest libraries in Ireland. Presbyterians always had this work ethic.
“Dunlop invented the rubber tire here, Ferguson invented the tractor, the ejector seat by Martin, the world's first vertical take-off aircraft, the mobile defibrillator and many more. For a tiny provincial city, those are amazing inventions.
“That spirit has always flowed through the veins of Belfast. Many would say that spirit started in Edinburgh, with people like Adam Smith, passes through here and then pushes off to America.”
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