Leeds is a city with a rich commercial tradition and fine buildings to match. Its prosperity, founded on the wool trade, is reflected in the seventeenth-century church of St John, with its magnificent Jacobean woodcarving and furnishings, while the town's eighteenth-century expansion produced elegant Georgian parades and squares with homes for wealthy merchants. They now stand cheek-by-jowl with solid, proud warehouses and offices of the railway age in a wonderful variety of styles ranging from elegant neo-Grecian to Gothic, Moorish and Egyptian. The civic pride of Victorian Leeds has as its crowning glory the grand Town Hall, testament to the talent of Cuthbert Brodrick, whose Corn Exchange and Mechanic's Institute make powerful use of dark and gritty local sandstone. Along the banks and wharfs of the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, now being revived for twenty-first-century living, are unique and nationally important industrial survivals including the inspired Egyptian-style Temple Mills and the unforgettable campanile of Tower Works.
The twentieth century gave the city its outstanding university campus and recent regeneration has led to a revival of the city's public spaces and famously ornate and opulent Edwardian shopping arcades and markets. In the suburbs and beyond lie comfortable mansions and major Victorian churches while survivors of a different past can be found in the parish church of Adel, one of the most complete Norman churches in Yorkshire, the romantic ruins of Kirkstall Abbey and the mighty C17 mansion at Temple Newsam.