The North City Centre likely began seeing major development in the mid-17th Century with the development of the Smithfield Marketplace. The 1700s was a boom for North City as many members of the affluent Protestant Ascendancy class built Georgian flats in the district creating “Georgian Dublin”. The best remaining concentrations of this architecture is located along O’Connell St east to approximately Gariner Street Lower, surrounding Mount Joy Square Park. Even a pocket remains along Henrietta St. The wealthy, however, began to leave the North City in the early 19th century moving to new districts around St. Stephan’s Green and Merrion Square to the south. Many of the regal Georgian flats were converted into poor tenant housing. This trend deepened in the 19th century as Dublin as a whole became more impoverished thanks to the British Unification, which moved Dublin political power to Westminster and led to tariffs and other limits on Dublin’s wool linen trade. North City became even more impoverished and dense in the 19th century with a large influx of potatoes famine refugees from the country side in the mid-century. Even up to this day the North City is viewed as Dublin’s ‘rough’ and rundown part of town compared to the upscale southeast side.
North City Center is a pretty loose neighborhood name for several subdistricts and loosely defined neighborhoods. The more defined subdistricts include: Smithfield, Liberty Corner, Mountjoy, and Summerhill. I view the boundaries of North City Center to be Constitution Hill and Dorset Street (N 1) running northeast to the Grand Canal as the northern border, Stoneybatter to the west, and the Docklands/Grand Canal forming the eastern border. North City holds a very eclectic array of architecture styles and time periods ranging from the 1600s to the present day. There is so much texture and variety, great parks and landmarks to the North City that I find it an even more interesting urban district than Center City. Much of North City was redeveloped in the mid century with large school social housing schemes perceived as the answer to this district’s poverty and poorly built housing. Fortunately much of the old city fabric remains and the new and the old mix quite nicely without major scares to the urban fabric. The Smithfield market was completed made over in the 2000s replacing a historic market with a well designed urban plaza and shopping area.
O’Connell Street Lower is the heart of North City, a bustling mixed-use historic blvd/streetcar hosting the massive Spire, Parnell Statue, and the start of Easter Bombing in 1916 with the bombing of the several bldgs on the street. Henry/Earl/Talbout/Mary street is a narrow bustling pedestrian shopping street that cuts through east to west blocks in the North City. Several pedestrian or semi-pedestrian block streets filled with retail businesses run perpendicular to Henry/Earl/Talbout/Mary street and three large shopping malls all feed into the main pedestrian street. Capel St is a wonderful historic mixed-use street running north to south. Other solid urban biz districts Parnell St, Dorset/Bolton/King, Smithfield St, Middle and Abbey/ Abbey St. Lower.
Click here to view my North City Centre Album and here to view my Smithfield Album on Flickr
* Great mixed-use fabric throughout most of the North City supplemented by several great urban business districts and pedestrian shopping streets.
* Excellent cultural and retail amenities rivaling and sometimes beating these amenities in the Center City. Tons of restaurants, bars, live music venues, theaters, and several theaters. North City also hosts the best concentration of clothing and department stores centered along or near the Henry/Earl/Talbout/Mary Pedestrian Mall. Three of Dublin’s five city centre shopping centers are located here (i.e. Jervis Centre, the Ilac Shopping Centre / Moore Street Mall, & the Irish Life Shopping Mall).
* Northside hosts Ireland’s largest cinman (i.e. The Cineworld) and the Savoy Cinema one of Ireland’s oldest cinemas.
* Very eclectic and interesting mixed of architectural styles, development periods, and uses mixing in close proximity of each other.
* Very dense population which helps support all the retail districts.
* Great proximity to Center City sitting just south across the Liffey River.
* Great system of bike lanes (often projected) and the City’s best access to streetcar lines with better service than Center city.
* North City can be gritty at times and much of the mid-century in-fill is unattractive. Generally mid- century infill still has better urban design than its American counterpart.
* Much of the modern in-fill, while not always aesthetically attractive, is well designed from an urban form and design perspective.