Life in the ‘cool’ little town of Bradford with its forest and famous museum – 3,000 miles from Yorkshire
With just over 8,000 residents and surrounded by a beautiful national forest, Bradford, Pennsylvania could hardly be more different from the West Yorkshire town.
Bradford is the fifth largest metropolitan authority in England and has a growing population, estimated at 542,000, while its namesake in the United States has seen its small population decline.
One is famous for textiles, especially wool, and its Victorian architecture, while the other is the home of Zippo, a maker of reusable and collectible pocket lighters. There is even a Zippo museum which attracts people from all over the world.
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Both cities have produced famous people, but you may not have heard of the American city’s notable people, including Grammy-winning opera singer Marilyn Horne, baseball player Rube Waddell, and the All-Star football player Stew Barber. By comparison, the Bradford district of West Yorkshire has its fair share of well-known Bradfordians, from David Hockney and Zayn Malik to JB Priestley and the Bronte sisters. Some of them would be considered world famous.
According to the City of Bradford website, Bradford, Pennsylvania is, confusingly, a city. He says, “We would like to introduce you to our city. A city that offers unhurried simplicity, affordable living and a friendly atmosphere.
“Surrounded by the beauty of the Allegheny National Forest, Bradford captures the beauty of all seasons and offers a variety of activities for everyone to enjoy all year round.
“Bradford is a unique community and a great place to raise a family. Many people know Bradford as the cool town with a warm heart.
“We think our community is truly a special place, but don’t take our word for it, come visit and see for yourself!”
The helpful website says Bradford has 20 police officers plus a police chief and 20 firefighters plus a fire chief. A photo gallery includes shots of the Beef Eaters restaurant, Veterans Square, Old Town Hall, St Bernard’s Church and the Bradford area secondary school, ‘the home of the Mighty Bradford Owls”.
Back in Yorkshire we have the mighty Bradford City, Keighley Cougars and Bradford Bulls.
But there are advantages to being a small town, according to the Allegheny National Forest website which calls Bradford “the Emerald City – a cool town with warm hearts.” He goes on to say, “A progressive town with traditional small town advantages located on the edge of the Allegheny National Forest and Allegany State Park. First known as ‘Littletown’ , the city has a strong history of timber, oil and manufacturing production.”
The Historic District “features an eclectic mix of building styles from the 1800s through the 1900s.”
The Movie House on Main Street is housed in the Art Deco-style Hooker Fulton Building, while visitors from around the world find themselves in the Zippo Museum. And the Penn Brad Oil Museum is located three miles south of town and pays homage to the area’s history as “the world’s premium oil metropolis.”
Back in West Yorkshire, visitors can marvel at the Grade I listed Bradford Town Hall or take a tour of the architectural delights of Little Germany. Further afield there are quirky and historic towns and villages to explore, from the literary sanctuary that is Haworth to the distinguished spa town of Ilkley. Museums and art galleries are dotted all around and there’s even a World Heritage Site, Saltaire, a Victorian model village renowned for its shops, restaurants and the giant Salts Mill, now an art gallery, a shopping center and a restaurant complex.
A website called Niche gives a fairly mundane assessment of life in Bradford, Pennsylvania: “Living in Bradford gives residents a dense suburban feel and most residents own their homes. In Bradford, there are a lot of bars and parks.Many families live in Bradford and residents tend to be conservative.Bradford’s public schools are above average.
The final say may go to Bradford, Yorkshire, which is seeking to become the UK’s City of Culture in 2025, to add to its City of Film designation. Tourism body Visit Bradford sums up the city perfectly on its website. He says “the fresh air and natural beauty will invigorate you”.
He lists 10 things to love about Bradford. These are:
Bradford is home to one of the finest collections of Victorian buildings in the UK. The city center is a good starting point.
Perhaps the most famous literary family the country has produced, the Brontës were born in Thornton and spent most of their lives in Haworth.
Britain’s ‘best bookshop’
Waterstones is based in the beautiful Wool Exchange building. Go see for yourself.
Thirty-six public parks
Bradford has amazing public parks thanks to generous benefactors.
It has been described as the “crown jewel” of theater in the North. Go see a West End show or a panto.
city of cinema
There are countless filming locations to discover, as well as the National Museum of Science and Media.
Curry lovers come from far and wide to enjoy a wide range of takeaways and restaurants.
Watch out for the big names at the Bradford Literature Festival and the Ilkley Literature Festival
The Bradford-born artist is one of the most beloved designers of the 20th century. His work can be seen at Salts Mill and Cartwright Hall.
There is incredible scenery and views throughout the Bradford district, from Ilkley Moor to Bronte Country.