City of York
Status Unitary, City
Region Yorkshire and the Humber
Ceremonial county North Yorkshire
Traditional county Yorkshire
- Total
Ranked 166th
271.94 km²
Admin. HQ York
ONS code 00FF
- Total (2004 est.)
- Density
Ranked 76th
680 / km²
Ethnicity 97.8% White
York City Council
Leadership Leader & Cabinet
Executive Liberal Democrats
MPs Hugh Bayley (City of York), John Greenway (Ryedale), John Grogan (Selby), Anne McIntosh (Vale of York)

York is a city in northern England, at the confluence of the Rivers Ouse and Foss. The York urban area has a population of 137,505 whilst the entire unitary authority (see below) has a population of 184,900. Its geographic coordinates are 53°57′N 1°05′W.

York is the traditional county town of Yorkshire, to which it lends its name. However, it did not form part of any of the three ridings of Yorkshire. Traditionally the City of York was a term reserved only for the area within the city walls (a small area outside of the walls, the Ainsty, was often associated with the City, resulting in the term the City and Ainsty of York), but the modern City of York, created on April 1, 1996, is a unitary authority — as well as York itself, this includes a number of neighbouring parishes which formerly belonged to the surrounding districts of Harrogate, Ryedale and Selby. It borders on North Yorkshire and the East Riding of Yorkshire.

York is home to the University of York. The city sometimes suffers from flooding.


The name 'York' has an interesting etymological history. The city was founded in AD 71, and has a rich Roman and Viking history. The historical aspects of York attract a great deal of tourism, the jewel in the crown being the city's historic cathedral church, York Minster.


York lies within the Vale of York, and is generally said to be a fairly flat area of land with an unusual amount of green space. The ings are flood meadows along the River Ouse, while the strays are scattered around the city in marshy, low-lying places; the Knavesmire is part of Micklegate Stray. In summer, when they are drier, these areas are used for recreation, and some are grazed by cattle.

York is situated at the confluence of two rivers, the Ouse and the Foss. During Roman times, the land surrounding the rivers was very marshy, making it easier to defend. The city is prone to severe flooding from the River Ouse, and has an extensive (but not always effective) network of flood defences. These include walls along the Ouse, and a barrier across the River Foss where it joins the Ouse. The floods of late October and early November 2000, which were the highest for over 350 years, caused much damage, but the water did not breach the flood walls. Much land within the city has always been too flood-prone for development.

A major railway junction, York is situated on the East Coast, Cross Country and Transpennine mainlines.

Historic Yorkshire
County Town:York
The Ridings
North Riding
West Riding
East Riding
Administrative divisions
North Yorkshire
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West Yorkshire
East Riding
Yorkshire articles
Famous People
White Rose


The population of York stands at 181,000.


This is a chart of trend of regional gross value added of York at current basic prices published (pp.240-253) by Office for National Statistics with figures in millions of British Pounds Sterling.

Year Regional Gross Value Added4 Agriculture1 Industry2 Services3
1995 2,052 30 579 1,443
2000 2,963 13 782 2,168
2003 3,299 16 779 2,505

Note 1: includes hunting and forestry

Note 2: includes energy and construction

Note 3: includes financial intermediation services indirectly measured

Note 4: Components may not sum to totals due to rounding

York's economy is based largely on tourism and other service-based industries. This is very different from the position as recently as the 1950s, when York's prosperity was based on chocolate manufacturing and the railways. Most of the industry around the railway has gone, including the carriage works which once employed some 22,000 men. Major employers now include City of York Council, Norwich Union, Card Protection Plan and Nestlé, amongst others.

York is the headquarters of the confectionery manufacturer Nestlé Rowntree, and home to the KitKat, Smarties and eponymous Yorkie bar chocolate brands. Terry's chocolate factory, makers of the Chocolate Orange, was also located in the city; but it closed on 30 September 2005, when production was moved by its owners, Kraft Foods, to Poland. However, the historic factory building can still be seen, situated next to the Knavesmire racecourse.

On the edge of York, the University of York and its Science Park contribute heavily to the skilled-work sector of the economy.

Law and government

York is an ancient borough, and was one of the boroughs reformed by the Municipal Corporations Act 1835 to form a municipal borough. It gained the status of a county borough in 1889, under the Local Government Act 1888, and existed so until 1974, when, under the Local Government Act 1972, it became a non-metropolitan district in the county of North Yorkshire.

In the 1990s UK local government reform, York became one of the many boroughs to regain unitary status, but was the only one to see a substantial alteration in its borders, taking in parts of Selby and Harrogate districts, and about half the population of Ryedale district.

York has 22 wards, which elect between 1 and 3 councillors each, for a total of 47 councillors. The council is controlled by the Liberal Democrats, who have 29 councillors. There are 15 Labour Party councillors, 2 Greens, and one independent.

The city has its own magistrates and crown courts. It is home to the North Yorkshire Police Force.

York is twinned with:


The University of York, on the edge of the city, regularly places in the top 5 UK Universities. Until 2006 it was York's only institution with university status, when York St John University College attained full university status (formerly being an autonomous college of University of Leeds). The city also hosts a branch of the College of Law.

The city has two other major Further Education institutions: one, York College, which is currently in the process of being moved to a brand new site, and a second at Askham Bryan. York College is an amalgamation of York Technical College and York Sixth Form College. Students there study a very wide range of academic and vocational courses, and range from school leavers and sixth formers right to people training to make career moves. It also runs many courses in the community. Askham Bryan College offers many further education course, foundation and honours degrees, specialising in more vocational subjects such as Horticulture, Agriculture, Animal Management and even Golf Course Management.

There are over 55 schools in the City of York area. The Local Education Authority is the City of York Council, who manage most Primary and Secondary Schools within the city. About 40 Primary schools cover education from ages 5-11, with some offering early years education from age three. From 11-16 education is then provided by 11 Secondary school, four of which offer additional education up to age 18.

York also has several private schools. The most famous of these is probably St Peter's. Another two have Quaker origins, Bootham School and The Mount. On the outskirts of the city is Queen Margarets School.

Sites of interest

Looking towards the Minster from the city walls
Looking towards the Minster from the city walls

York Minster, the historic cathedral church stands at the city's centre. The city centre is nearly surrounded by walls, pictured. To walk the entire circuit (including parts where walls never existed) is about 3 miles.

Cliffords Tower
Cliffords Tower

The Shambles is perhaps York's most iconic street. Formerly the lamb-butchers district, it retains most of its feel from around 4-500 years ago. It contains the shrine of Margaret Clitherow, and many gift shops. York has many other narrow streets and passages, commonly known as Snickelways.

The city has many museums, including the Castle Museum, Yorkshire Museum & Gardens, Richard III Museum and the York Dungeon. The National Railway Museum is situated just behind the station, and is home to the largest static collection of railway locomotives in the world, including the world's fastest steam locomotive LNER 4468 Mallard.

The Kings Arms pub during floods
The Kings Arms pub during floods

York is also a major venue for horse racing at York Racecourse in the Knavesmire area, and every year, thousands flock to the city for the Ebor Handicap Meeting in August.

York is also noted for its wealth of churches and pubs. Many of the remaining churches in York are from the medieval period. The York area is said to contain one pub for every day of the year, although this is a little exaggerated. Similarly it has been said that there is no point within the city walls where one can stand and not be able to see at least one pub and at least one church.


The City's football team (York City) was relegated from the Football League to the Nationwide Conference at the end of the 2003/4 season. In the 2005/6 season, York City almost made it to the Playoffs for a chance to regain their place in the Football League, however, a late drop in form meant that they missed out, finishing just outside the Playoff zone. York City's most famous win would be when they beat Manchester United 3-0 in the 1995/96 League Cup at Old Trafford. Though they lost the return leg 3-1, they went through on aggregate. The following season they also knocked out Everton in the same competition. Other notable performances include reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup in 1955, beating Arsenal 1-0 in the FA Cup in 1985 and finishing 15th in the old League Division 2. York also has a rugby league side, York City Knights and an open rowing club (York city rowing club) located underneath Lendal Bridge. York Rugby League Club's best moment came in 1931 when they reached the Challenge Cup Final, only to be beaten 22-8 by Halifax. The most notable sportsmen to come form York in recent years are footballers Marco Gabbiadini and Steve McClaren, who both attended Nunthorpe Grammar School. Steve McClaren has since gone onto Football management at several clubs including Middlesbrough and has been appointed to the post of England Manager in 2006.

Notable inhabitants

Many notable people have made their homes in York. At the present time, arguably the most famous living resident of the city is the actress Dame Judi Dench.



Members of the Royal Family

Local media

The York area is served by a local newspaper, The Press (known as the Evening Press until April 2006) and two local radio stations Minster FM and BBC Radio York. It is also served by its own free-to-air television station broadcasting on frequency 54,York@54.

The University has its own television broadcasting channel York Student Television (YSTV) and two campus newspapers, the national award winning nouse and Vision. Its radio station URY was recently voted BBC Radio 1 Student Radio Station of the Year 2005.

Quaker involvement in the city

St Williams College near the Minster
St Williams College near the Minster

York has a long association with the Religious Society of Friends. The York-born Quaker chocolate entrepreneurs and social reformers Joseph Rowntree and Benjamin Seebohm Rowntree left an indelible mark on the city, through both their business interests and their philanthropy. They built the village of New Earswick to provide quality affordable housing for their employees. They also founded two Quaker schools, Bootham School and The Mount, and contributed in large part to the building of York Public Library and the creation of Rowntree Park. The four Rowntree trusts, funded from the Rowntree legacies, are based in York.

The Retreat is a large Quaker mental hospital, situated in the east of the city outside the city walls. It was founded in 1796 by William Tuke; over the next century his son Henry Tuke, grandson Samuel Tuke and great-grandson Daniel Hack Tuke also devoted themselves to mental health reform, continuing to reform The Retreat and publishing a number of works on the subject. Another notable York Quaker was the sculptor Austin Wright.

City areas and surrounding villages

Lendal Tower on the River Ouse, put up for sale as a property in 2006
Lendal Tower on the River Ouse, put up for sale as a property in 2006
Barkers Tower on the Ouse at Lendal Bridge.
Barkers Tower on the Ouse at Lendal Bridge.
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