Over centuries, the small fishing town of Brighthelmstone has come a long and rocky path toward becoming one of the world's most famous sea resorts. In the mid-1800s, seaside tourism began to come into fashion, which, combined with the growing public interest in sea water cure, turned the city into one of Europe's major seaside resorts.
The Royal Pavilion, the city's most outstanding hallmark, was built by George IV. It was during his reign that Brighton received fame and became attractive. Once a railroad track connected Brighton with London in 1841, tourist business skyrocketed, and it took less than 10 years for the annual number of visitors to reach 250,000!
As of now, around 8 million tourists arrive in Brighton each year. The Brighton Pier and the Royal Pavilion are still the city's most significant attractions. It should be noted, however, that it was during the last ten years that a real cultural breakthrough took place in the city. Nowadays, Brighton's status of a seaside resort is only a tiny part of its true value.
Brighton and Hove was endowed with city status in 2000. Today, it can boast of endless cultural diversity, being a stronghold of world arts, club culture, music scene, night club movement, trade and dining service. What makes the city particularly attractive is its absolutely tolerant and benevolent environment. This is one of the few places where gay community enjoys relative peace. Brighton has been a breeding ground for many celebrities, so this is a truly bohemian city.
Brighton seems to be moving toward further achievements in a determined and straightforward way. Recently, an advanced library was built in the North Laine district for the new Cultural Quarter. Two state-of-the-art hotels are planned to be erected here and in the new Urbal Village, in Brighton Station's vicinity. The City Council has granted the construction of the Brighton i-360 seafront observation mast near the West Pier. The mast will be equipped with an aerodynamic pod designed for 100 people, which will go 492ft (150m) high up, so that people can admire the breath-taking panoramic view of the city and the boundless expanses of sea. Its opening is planned for summer 2008.
A large seafront sporting complex is supposed to be built in Hove. It will include two ice rinks, each about the size of the Olympic, for both leisure and professional skating. Frank Gehry has designed a unique entertainment center as well, which will stand out by two futurist-style towers in the middle.