Aberdeen is the third largest city in Scotland, with a population of 228,990. Situated between the River Dee and the River Don on the north-east coast, it is a Royal Burgh with a charter granted by King David l of Scotland (1124-53), which led to its growth as a centre of manufacturing and trade. Aberdeen was burned down by King Edward III of England in 1337, but the town and its cathedral were subsequently rebuilt. It became a centre of learning with two universities, King’s College, founded in 1494, and Marischal College, founded in1593; these were united in 1860 into the University of Aberdeen.
“Modern” Aberdeen came into being after 1750, developing a range of industries including textiles, shipbuilding and engineering, distilling, paper and granite, as well as the fishing industry for which it was best-known. Aberdeen remains Scotland’s largest fishing port, even if the nearby ports of Peterhead and Fraserburgh are more important today. The harbour was constructed in two phases in the 19th century. By 1900, Aberdeen was the major retail, administrative and educational centre of northern Scotland.
It is nicknamed “The Granite City”, because of the large number of buildings which are constructed from locally-quarried granite and exude an air of grey, Victorian solidity. But after the Victorian era, the city began to decline, due to its remoteness from Britain’s major population centres; manufacturing suffered because of competition from cheaper, more accessible locations and fishing was affected by declining stocks, and by political decisions to limit access to traditional North Sea fishing grounds. Then, in 1969, oil and gas were discovered in the North Sea. In 1975, the Forties oil field came on stream, and Aberdeen became the capital of the British offshore oil industry.
The North Sea oil boom brought the city a new lease of life and a big injection of wealth. Between 1971 and 2001, the city’s employed population leaped from under 95,000 to around 150,000, and Aberdeen became a major centre of the world energy industry. Modern office blocks sprang up in the city, the population became far more cosmopolitan (with international schools for the children of oil company employees), and fortunes were made; new industries and infrastructure developments were introduced. These were dramatic changes, in what had previously been one of the more traditional areas of the United Kingdom. But the citizens of Aberdeen are known for their thrift – Scots from other areas of the country tell jokes about Aberdonian tight-fistedness, often the same jokes which in other countries are told about the Scots.
Local politicians and business leaders seem keen to ensure that the benefits of the oil boom aren’t squandered. While Dundee and Glasgow voted for independence in the 2014 referendum, the more prosperous cities of Edinburgh and Aberdeen voted against it, with Aberdeen having a higher than average “No” vote. Although the North-East of Scotland has rich local traditions (including its own dialect, “Doric” Scots, which may baffle outsiders) and the city and the surrounding countryside have plenty of attractions and sights to interest tourists, it is an area in which business plays a significant role – as shown by a recent controversy over plans to redevelop parts of the Victorian city centre, which were backed by a prominent local businessman but provoked strong opposition. Despite its relatively mild winter temperatures, Aberdeen is also the coldest city in the UK, which doesn’t help its image. But there’s plenty to see and do in and around Aberdeen, as the Visit Scotland website shows:
An excellent Wikipedia article on Aberdeen,with lots of interesting information: