Once infamous for its industrial dereliction, tenement slums and gangsters, Glasgow has now established itself as one of the most contemporary and lively cities in the country. From heavy industry to high culture, our local guide Lorna Dalgliesh on why Scotland’s biggest city is AWESOME and where best to bask in that brilliance…
From Cooler Issue 44 – Spring/Summer 2014
In the early 1900s Glasgow’s thuggery thrived and gained lasting notoriety. Inhabitants of the decaying and overcrowded tenement flats appeared to have stepped right off the set of the prohibition-era drama “Boardwalk Empire.” But look past the dark history, for Scotland’s biggest city has grown out of its post-industrial dystopian past to become a cultural inspiration. The River Clyde, which once was a hub for shipbuilding and international trading, now runs past art galleries and museums, which have taken root in the revitalised docks.
With billions of pounds being poured into regeneration projects across the city, Glasgow seems to be reinventing itself before your eyes. As a result, the street art scene is flourishing! Dramatic artworks commissioned by the council are popping up all over the city, brightening up areas once plagued by vandalism. Artists such as Smug-One, Klingatron and Sam Bates just to name a few have been the first to step up and revitalise some of Glasgow’s wasted walls. From Daleks to elephants and giant women, there seems to be no limit to the awesome things we have yet to see brought to life on Glasgow’s city walls. The more established art scene also thrives in the city; one of the oldest creative institutions in the UK, the prestigious Glasgow School of Art will take you back to Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 19th century Glasgow. To add to the city’s already impressive reputation for culture, it has become more notable in recent years with the reopening of the enormous Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum.
Street arts new found popularity is not the only consequence of Glasgow’s revitalisation. Ahead of the Commonwealth Games this summer, a new focus on sport is sweeping the city. Glasgow urban sports group work towards improving facilities in the city with a special focus on the Kelvingrove skatepark. With approximately a third of the existing park being upgraded and support from the council, I am crossing my fingers for an uncharacteristic warm and sunny Scottish summer! If your sporting fix is still unfulfilled; Scotland is experiencing its best snowfall in over a decade. With GlenCoe mountain resort less that 90 minutes away and loads more resorts further a field, as long as you are not afraid of a few ice burns, there is some great riding to be had. If the weather really is in your favour there are some great surf breaks less than two hours away on the East coast. If you’re feeling up for an adventure head North to Thurso and experience Scotland’s superlative surfing venue.
You can be assured Scotland will look a little different since the last time you were here. Glasgow has shaken off its tarnished past and reinvented itself as a hip metropolitan utopia. Brace yourself for the weather and get out there and enjoy what Scotland has to offer!