In 1887, John Bartholomew's Gazetteer of the British Isles described Belfast like this:
Belfast, parl. and mun. bor., manufacturing and seaport town, and the principal town of Ulster, chiefly in Shankill par., co. Antrim, but partly also in Holywood and Knockbreda pars., co. Down, at the influx of the Lagan to Belfast Lough, 113 miles N. of Dublin by rail, 129 from Glasgow, and 160 from Liverpool -- mun. bor., 5991 ac., pop. 208,122; parl. bor., pop. 221,600; 6 Banks, 11 newspapers. Market-days, Tuesday and Friday. On the land side the city is bounded and sheltered by a lofty and picturesque ridge of hills, which ends abruptly in the basaltic eminence of Cave Hill (1185 ft.). ...
It presents a clean, prosperous, and business-like appearance, and possesses wide and regular streets, elegant and substantial buildings, and beautiful environs. An insignificant vil. in 1612, when Scotch and English colonists first settled there, Belfast is now the chief seat of the trade and mfrs. of Ireland, and the second port next to Dublin. Of its numerous educational institutions, the most important is Queen's College, opened in 1849; it has professorships in arts, law, medicine, and science, including engineering and agriculture. The staple mfrs. are linen and cotton; and bleaching, dyeing, and calico-printing are extensively carried on. Some of the flax-mills are very large. There are flour and oil mills; chemical works; iron foundries; breweries, distilleries; alabaster and barilla mills; shipbuilding (on Queen's island), rope, and sailcloth yards. Pork curing is an important branch of trade. The docks and wharfage have become very extensive. Steamers sail daily to and from Liverpool, Glasgow, Fleetwood, Barrow, and Ardrossan; and once or twice a week to Dublin, Cork, Bristol, London, Havre, &c. (For shipping statistics, see Appendix.) The borough returns 4 members to Parliament -- 4 divisions, viz., East, South, West, and North, 1 member for each division.
GB Historical GIS / University of Portsmouth, History of Belfast, in and Antrim | Map and description, A Vision of Ireland through Time.
Date accessed: 20th June 2013
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