A small town until the 19th century, it owed its rapid growth as an inland port to the two canals, the Leeds and Liverpool and the Aire and Calder, which met here, forming a coast to coast link between Liverpool and Hull.
Leeds soon became an important centre for the woollen industry and for ready made clothing.
There are some beautiful Victorian shopping arcades, as well as the fantastic indoor Kirkgate Market and the beautiful Corn Exchange, while the Town Hall, built in the 1850s, is most impressive.
Michael Marks began his Penny Bazaar at Leeds, and later expanded into the world famous Marks and Spencer. Other businesses started in Leeds include Thomas Chippendale`s furniture and Joshua Tetley`s brewery.
Leeds City Art Gallery houses a good collection of works by internationally known artists, and the Henry Moore Institute is next door.
Leeds has a Catholic Cathedral. St. John`s Church is 17th century and Holy Trinity Church is 18th century. St. Peter`s Church is the parish church. A mediaeval foundation, it was largely rebuilt in the 19th century. The composer Samuel Wesley was the organist.
The Royal Armouries Museum was the first major purpose built musrum in the 20th century.
Near the railway station is an equestrian statue representing the Black Prince.
Prominent people born in Leeds include David Batty, England footballer; Alan Bennett, playwright; Barbara Taylor Bradford, novelist; Patrick Heron, artist; Stuart McCall, Scotland footballer; Simon Marks, industrialist; Jeremy Paxman, TV journalist; Gordon Pirie, athlete; Joseph Priestley, chemist; Arthur Ransome, author; Sue Ryder, philanthropist; Jimmy Savile, broadcaster; Arthur Scargill, trade union leader; and Keith Waterhouse, novelist.
Samuel Smiles, the author of "Self Help", was for a while Editor of the "Leeds Times". The actor Peter O`Toole grew up in the city, and both Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth sudied at the Art School.
Members of Parliament have included Hugh Gaiskell and Denis Healey.
Blue Badge Guide Colin Crosby is available to lead Guided Walks around Leeds (Yorkshire) for groups.