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Map sources for Harrogate at grid reference SE3055
Map sources for Harrogate at grid reference SE3055

Harrogate is a town in North Yorkshire, England, with a population of 90,000. It is part of the larger Harrogate administrative district, and part of the Leeds City Region.

Prior to the discovery of its naturally iron and sulphur rich water, Harrogate was two minor villages (High Harrogate and Low Harrogate) close to the historic town of Knaresborough. The first mineral spring in Harrogate was discovered by William Slingsby in 1571, who found that water from the Tewitt Well possessed similar properties to that from the springs of the Belgian town of Spa, which gave its name to spa towns. The medicinal properties of the waters were more widely publicised by one Edmund Deane, whose book, Spadacrene Anglica, or the English Spa Fountain was published in 1626. Following this Harrogate developed considerable fame as a spa town.

Today the site of the Tewitt Well is marked by a dome within the Stray, an area of open parkland some 200 acres (800,000 m²) in size that runs through the centre of the town. The Harrogate Stray was created in 1778 by an act of Parliament. Other wells can be found in Harrogate's Valley Gardens and the Royal Pump Room museum.

Harrogate was granted status as a borough in the 12th century, and was primarily a centre for agriculture and the woollen industry.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Harrogate was extremely popular among the English elite and was frequented by nobility from around Europe. Its popularity declined after World War I. During World War II, however, Harrogate's large hotels accommodated government offices that had been evacuated from London. This paved the way for the town's current function as a commercial, conference, and exhibition centre. The town hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in 1982.

Harrogate was the winner of the 2003 Britain in Bloom in the category of 'Large Town'. From there it went on to win the European Entente Florale competition in 2004. This reprises its win in the first ever Entente Florale competition in 1977. In 2005 Harrogate was stated as the UK's 3rd best place to live. It is also the most expensive area outside West London within England.

Harrogate is now one of Europe's largest exhibition and conference centres and has many guest houses, hotels and restaurants catering for the regular influx of visitors. The town also acts, to some extent, as a dormitory town for commuters working in the cities of Leeds and Bradford. Harrogate is strongly connected to Leeds, and is part of the Leeds City Region, the city at the centre of the financial region.

The town has a large American population owing to its vicinity to the monitoring station Menwith Hill.

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