Discovering York's famous streets
York has everything the tourist and shopper could want: a mixture of independent shops and Boutiques, High Street Stores, Designer Labels and an outdoor market.
The fun is in finding your way around the ancient streets. York is a compact city and most of the shops that a visitor to York would need are to be found inside the City Walls.
Voted as the most Picturesque street in Britain 2010 as part of a Google Competition, the most famous street in York is the Shambles. The buildings that are nearly touching each other at the top, close enough for people to shake hands with the person in the house on the opposite side of the street, date back to the fifteenth century.
As you stand in the Shambles today it easy to understand where the name 'Shambles' came from. 'Fleshammels' means the street of the butchers and the Shambles was once populated with butchers shops. The word 'Shamel' comes from a Medieval term which is used to describe a bench on which goods were sold. It is easy to imagine the animals being slaughtered and sold from these buildings, with the meat on display across the wide windows sills of the lower floor. The blood and other waste from the animals was washed down the street in the channel that had been created by raising the pavement on both sides of the street. Records show that the Shambles was a busy butchers street until fairly recent times. In 1872 there were known to be 26 butchers shops on this small street.
Today you are more likely to find Gift Shops, restaurants and tourist attractions such as the shrine to Margaret Clitherow who was canonised as St Margaret of York in 1970.
Coney Street is the main street for shopping in York today and always has been. Dating back as far as 1213 when the Vikings named it 'Cuningstreta' meaning King street.
Department stores and High street Fashion shops make up most of the street today but there are some historical features to be seen along the street. For example TK Maxx is currently occupying a very interesting building. Look at the architecture above the shopfronts and you will see that Coney street is a mixture of various styles of buildings from the fairly recent modernisation of the Spurriergate end of Coney street down to St Helen's Square and the Mansion House, (which is official residence of the Mayor of York).
Halfway along Coney street, close to an opening which leads to the City Screen Cinema and some of the best Riverside Bars in York, there is a huge clock which dates back to 1668.
Parliament Street was built in 1834 and now houses some of the largest Banks in the city. The wide pedestrian street is used as a venue for food festivals and exhibitions as well as street entertainers.At Christmas time a Children's fair is erected in Parliament as part of the annual St Nicholas Fair.
Shops here include Marks and Spencers, Carphone Warehouse, Whittards Teas, Thornton's Chocolates and Claire's accessories amongst others.
For the best view of York Minster's famous Rose Window you should go to the top floor of Marks and Spencers. A specially designed window was made in the department store to give a pefect view of the stained glass Rose Window across the skyline of York.
The feature fountain in Parliament street is a popular meeting place with nearby coffee bars providing al fresco seating.
Located in the space between Parliament street and the Shambles there is a fresh food and vegetable market called Newgate Market. A consolidated York Market was originally situated in Parliament street from 1837 until the market relocated to its current home in 1964. Today's market has over 100 stalls selling dry goods as well as fresh fruit and veg, meat and fish.
Stonegate is one of the most popular shopping streets for the tourist in York. It is full of Character and charm and is always busy.There is usually one or two street entertainers such as the man on a bike painted Purple!! There are a variety of shops such as Mulberry Hall, Crabtree and Evelyn, antique shops and Jewellers. The public houses along this street include some of the most unique in York. The Olde Starre Inne, possibly the oldest pub in York is located on this street.The Evil Eye is next door to The Olde Starre and further down the street is The House of the trembling madness which has to be seen to be believed.
At the top of Stonegate is Petergate which stretches from Bootham Bar to Kings Square. This street has a variety of shops and restaurants catering for both the tourist and the locals. Turn right into High Petergate and you will find The Guy Fawkes Inn.
Guy Fawkes is one of many historical figures from York. Click Here to find out more about him and other historical York residents.