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Glasgow was the "Second City of the British Empire" for much of the Victorian era and Edwardian period, although many cities argue the title was theirs.

Glasgow grew from a small rural settlement on the River Clyde to become the largest seaport in Britain.

Expanding from the medieval bishopric and royal burgh, and the later establishment of the University of Glasgow in the fifteenth century, it became a major centre of the Scottish Enlightenment in the eighteenth century.

The opening of the Monkland Canal and basin linking to the Forth and Clyde Canal at Port Dundas in 1795, facilitated access to the extensive iron-ore and coal mines in Lanarkshire.

After extensive river engineering projects to dredge and deepen the River Clyde as far as Glasgow, shipbuilding became a major industry on the upper stretches of the river, pioneered by industrialists such as Robert Napier, John Elder, George Thomson, Sir William Pearce and Sir Alfred Yarrow.

The development of civic institutions included the City of Glasgow Police in 1800, one of the first municipal police forces in the world.

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