In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Edinburgh like this:
Edinburgh, ancient capital of Scotland, parl. and royal burgh, and co. town of Mid-Lothian, 1½ mile from its seaport Leith on S. shore of Firth of Forth, 42 E. of Glasgow, and 3961 N. of London by East Coast route -- parl. and mun. burgh, 17,028 ac., pop. 236,032; 7 Banks, 10 newspapers. Market-day, Wednesday. (The municipal limits were extended in 1882, and the parliamentary limits in 1885, when the members were increased from 2 to 4). Edinburgh is one of the most picturesque of cities, and its beauties and historical associations attract a constant influx of visitors. ...
It is built on 3 ridges running E. and W., and is surrounded on all sides, except the N., by lofty hills. The Old Town occupies the central ridge, terminated by the Castle on the W., and by Holyrood on the E.; the Castle Rock is 437 ft. high. The Castle was built in the 7th century by Edwin of Northumbria, on a site previously occupied, in all probability, by the Romans and the Southern Picts. Edinburgh was added to the kingdom of the Scots in the 10th century, and was made a burgh by David I., who, in 1128, founded the Abbey of Holyrood. From 1437 (when James I. was murdered at Perth) until the Union in 1603, it was the favourite capital of the Stuart kings. It was walled and fortified by James II. in 1450. The Old Town contains many buildings of historical interest, notably the ancient Parliament House (now forming part of the supreme courts of law) and the collegiate church or cathedral of St Giles (built 1110, restored 1883). The New Town, which occupies the N. ridge, took its rise towards the end of the 18th century. It presents a splendid assemblage of streets, squares, gardens, and monuments. More recently the city has extended rapidly towards the S. and the W. The principal industries of Edinburgh are printing, type-founding, bookbinding, lithographing, and engraving; machine-making and brass-founding; coach-building; mfrs. of glass and jewellery; tanning, brewing, and distilling There are 3 distilleries. Edinburgh is the seat of the Government departments for Scotland, and is a garrison town. It is also the centre of the railway and the banking systems of Scotland. A railway, 7 miles long, round the S. suburbs, was begun in 1881 and opened in 1884. It has railway and tramway communication with Leith, which at one point it conjoins. Edinburgh, however, depends for its prosperity chiefly on its courts of law, colleges, and schools, on its attractions for visitors, and its amenity as a place of residence. The University (1582) had in 1883-1884 professors to the number of 41, and students to the number of 3408, of whom 1559 were medical students. Edinburgh has long been famous for its medical schools, which have attracted students from all parts of the world. The new Medical School, adjacent to the new Royal Infirmary, was built in 1878-1883. Of the other educational institutions the more prominent are the Theological Colleges, the Training Colleges, the High School, the Merchant Company's Schools, Fettes College (modelled after the great public schools of England), the Royal Scottish Academy of Painting, Sculpture, and Architecture, and the School of Arts. There are also numerous hospitals (Heriot's, Donaldson's, &c.) for the maintenance and education of poor children. The burgh returns 4 members to Parliament -- 4 divisions, viz., East, West, Central, and South, 1 member for each div. The Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews return 1 member.
A Vision of Britain through Time includes a large library of local statistics for administrative units. For the best overall sense of how the area containing Edinburgh has changed, please see our redistricted information for the modern district of Edinburgh. More detailed statistical data are available under Units and statistics, which includes both administrative units covering Edinburgh and units named after it.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Edinburgh in Scotland | Map and description, A Vision of Britain through Time.
Date accessed: 20th May 2013
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