Forget what you were once told about Birmingham as we say goodbye to its dull reputation and hello to a city that’s flourishing before our eyes.
Despite being at the centre of the UK and holding its status as the second biggest city, Birmingham’s potential is often dismissed. However, with recent changes and substantial developments, the city has gradually become a more desirable place to live and more people are leaving the bright lights of London to settle down in the place that gave the world balti, Black Sabbath and the Bullring.
It’s no secret that living here is significantly cheaper than London and with recent figures highlighting how Birmingham is now the most popular place to move from the capital, it’s evident that perceptions about it are changing, something that was recently confirmed by the announcement of Birmingham being set to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.
From the rise of popularity in areas such as Digbeth, Moseley and Stirchley (thanks to places like Zindiya, Ghetto Golf and Loaf) to more drastic changes architecturally, it’s now rightfully being celebrated as a culturally diverse hub of opportunity.
The New York Times recently wrote that ‘Birmingham is no longer simply flyover country’, urging people to visit the ‘heartland metropolis’ of ‘big-shouldered, friendly and fun’ people, and now more than ever, Birmingham’s importance to the UK is being confirmed. From the edible delights of Digbeth Dining Club to carefully crafted G&T’s at 40 St Paul’s and hearty brunch at The Plough Harborne, there’s truly something for everyone. With certain chain restaurants cropping up over most main cities in the UK, the success of home-grown, independent restaurants within Birmingham is a great way to celebrate all the city has to offer.
As the old New Street Station gradually disappeared, so did the common misconception that the only thing Birmingham has to offer is an undesirable accent.
Just a few years ago, Michelin star restaurants in Birmingham were unheard of and now with more Michelin stars than any other English city outside of London, Birmingham’s culinary scene is bursting with potential.
Recent years have proved that we have way more to offer than just Balti Triangle, as top chefs such as Glynn Purnell and Adam Stokes have reinvented Birmingham’s fine dining scene. As a Brummie himself, Glynn Purnell’s innovative menu and contemporary taste at restaurant Purnell’s has brought visitors from all across the country to the heart of the city to enjoy a dining experience like no other.
Birmingham is a thriving and vibrant place to live, work and dine and as the old New Street Station gradually disappeared, so did the common misconception that the only thing Birmingham has to offer is an undesirable accent.
As well as iconic attractions such as Cadbury World, Birmingham Hippodrome and Symphony Hall remaining to represent the city’s fundamental heritage, Birmingham has opened its arms to an array of exciting ventures.
Of course, we’re also home to Peaky Blinders, with the Black Country Living Museum being transformed into 1920’s Birmingham for some of the filming of the series and it can’t be ignored that the new Library of Birmingham has brought a substantial amount of interest, regardless of its controversial reception and drastic cuts in opening hours. With Visit Birmingham stating that the number of people obtaining a library membership had ‘increased significantly, with a 140% rise in people joining’ in the first year alone; the Library of Birmingham has brought culture back to the forefront of the city.
In a generation of Kindles and eBooks, the resurgence of interest in a public library is somewhat refreshing, as figures further highlight how more than two million people visited the building in its first year.
Just a stone’s throw away from the Library of Birmingham, the demolition of the Central Library has contributed drastically to the ever-changing silhouette of the city. Although this comes hand in hand with traffic restrictions and a confusing one-way system, the outdated Paradise Circus building has disappeared to reveal a whole new perspective of the city.
Having walked through Paradise Circus uncountable times, it feels strange to see a place so familiar to me look so dramatically different. Alongside the £600m redevelopments to Birmingham’s main train station, the additional £150m towards Grand Central Birmingham which allows visitors to revel in the exciting range of shops, restaurants and cafés.
With Visit Birmingham reporting that more than 40% of Birmingham’s population is made up of under 25-year-olds, it’s clear that more people are making the choice to build a life in an up-and-coming alternative to the over-priced and over-crowded lifestyle of London.
Birmingham is the best of both worlds. From state of the art venues to prosperous business opportunities and years of an unfair reputation behind us it’s finally our time to shine, as Birmingham’s status as the ‘second city’ no longer means we’re second best.