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What's the purpose of the Lincoln Square in Manchester

What’s the purpose of the Lincoln Square in Manchester? 

Isn’t it quite odd that an American hero has a statue built in the UK? More specifically, Manchester pays homage to one of the world’s most revered people in history: Ex-president Abraham Lincoln. 

The Lincoln statue and the square itself are historically significant, with the statue serving as a reminder of the cotton famine in Lancashire caused by the American Civil War. 

Are you interested to know more about this beautiful statue? Read more below to learn more about Manchester’s bizarre yet incredible Lincoln memorial! 

History and Significance of the Lincoln Statue in Manchester

The Abraham Lincoln statue in Manchester holds an important historical significance beyond the recognition of the 16th President of the United States. 

Unveiled in 1919, it stands as a testament to a shared history between the United States and England, particularly the city of Manchester, during the American Civil War.

The 19th Century Civil War 

During the Civil War (1861-1865), the northern states, the Union, imposed a naval blockade on the Confederate southern states to prevent them from exporting cotton to foreign markets, a key pillar of their economy. 

This led to a cotton famine in many parts of Europe, particularly in England, where the textile industry heavily relied on this raw material. The hardest hit was the city of Manchester, also known as ‘Cottonopolis’, which was then the world’s leading cotton goods manufacturing city.

Despite the ensuing economic hardship, the workers of Manchester supported the Union’s cause, upholding the moral issue of slavery abolition over their livelihood. 

They demonstrated this through a letter of solidarity sent to President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, expressing their unwavering support for the Union even in the face of their dire economic circumstances.

Lincoln’s Honour in Manchester 

Lincoln responded with a letter of gratitude in 1864, acknowledging their selfless stand for liberty. He also sent an amount of cotton that had been legally purchased abroad by the U.S. government to alleviate the city’s suffering.

Fast forward to 1919, Manchester chose to commemorate Lincoln in recognition of this historic interaction. A statue of Lincoln was erected in Platt Fields Park. The bronze statue, sculpted by George Grey Barnard, depicted a contemplative Lincoln, standing tall in long, draping robes.

In 1986, the statue was moved to Lincoln Square, closer to the city’s centre. The letters exchanged between Lincoln and the working people of Manchester are inscribed on the pedestal of the statue, offering a constant reminder of the shared history, values, and mutual respect between the two nations.

Lincoln Statue’s Symbolism

The statue holds a unique position, symbolising the spirit of international solidarity, the fight against slavery, and the shared commitment to human rights and liberty. 

It’s a testament to the moral courage and integrity of the Manchester workers, and their willingness to suffer in the short term for what they saw as a long-term global gain. 

Likewise, it’s a symbol of shared democratic values and the transatlantic bond between the United Kingdom and the United States.

How to Get Around

Bus: The Manchester bus network is extensive, and numerous bus routes pass near Lincoln Square. As it’s centrally located, you could likely find a bus from Piccadilly Station to get to the monument the quickest. 

Train: Manchester has a robust train system that connects the city to other parts of the UK. The nearest train station to Lincoln Square is Manchester Oxford Road, about a 10-minute walk away. 

From there, you could catch a train to numerous destinations. For local travel within Manchester, you might find the Metrolink tram service more useful. 

The nearest Metrolink station to Lincoln Square is St Peter’s Square, which is also about a 10-minute walk.

Taxi: Taxi services are abundant in Manchester. You can hail a traditional black cab on the street, or you can book a ride in advance with a private hire taxi company. 

Alternatively, you could use a rideshare service like Uber or Lyft if they are still operating in Manchester. To get to Lincoln Square, you would just need to give the driver the address or name of the square.

Car Service: There are also numerous private car services in Manchester that could take you to Lincoln Square. These range from high-end chauffeur services to more budget-friendly options. 

What to Expect and See in the square

The Abraham Lincoln Statue Itself: Brief History and Importance

The Abraham Lincoln statue located in Manchester’s Lincoln Square is a profound symbol of international relations and shared history between the United Kingdom and the United States. 

The statue itself was created by the American sculptor, George Grey Barnard, well-known for his public works, particularly those portraying historical figures.

All about the Sculptor 

George Grey Barnard was known for his realistic style and the ability to capture the essence and gravitas of his subjects. This can be observed in the depiction of Lincoln, with the statue showcasing Lincoln’s distinctive features and physical presence. 

The statue doesn’t depict Lincoln in an idealised fashion, but rather presents a realistic portrayal, giving the viewer an opportunity to connect with a significant historical figure on a human level.

This statue was a gift to the city of Manchester from Mr. and Mrs. Charles Phelps Taft of Cincinnati, Ohio in 1919. 

Charles Phelps Taft was a prominent American lawyer and politician and also the half-brother of William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States. Charles and his wife, Anna Sinton Taft, were known for their philanthropic efforts, especially in the field of arts and culture.

Why was the Lincoln Statue built in the first place? 

The decision to give this statue to Manchester symbolises a particular period in history when the people of Manchester, despite enduring significant hardship due to the Union blockade of cotton during the American Civil War, stood in solidarity with the Union cause against slavery. 

Lincoln’s statue stands as a testament to this act of international solidarity, acknowledging the support of the Lancashire cotton workers for the cause of ending slavery, despite the personal cost.

Since its installation, the statue has been an important part of Manchester’s historical and cultural landscape, reminding visitors and residents alike of the city’s role in international affairs and its support for human rights. 

Its location in Lincoln Square makes it easily accessible for those wishing to pay their respects or learn more about this complex period in global history.

Immerse in its historical context 

The Lincoln Statue in Manchester symbolises Lancashire’s intricate role during the mid-19th century American Civil War, a time when the region’s cotton industry became indirectly implicated in the conflict.

Post Colonial Cotton Industry

The Lancashire region of the UK was the heart of the cotton industry during the 19th century. Cotton from the Southern states of the US was crucial for Lancashire’s mills, where it was spun into thread and woven into cloth before being sold around the world.

However, when the Southern states seceded from the Union and the Civil War began in 1861, President Abraham Lincoln imposed a naval blockade on Confederate ports. 

This was intended to cut off the South’s ability to export cotton, which was a primary source of its wealth, and thus curtail its ability to finance the war effort. 

This action was known as the Cotton Diplomacy, as the Confederate States had hoped to force the UK and France to intervene in the war on their behalf due to their dependence on Southern cotton.

Lincoln’s Action Against the Confederates 

Lincoln’s blockade had a significant impact on Lancashire, leading to a period known as the Cotton Famine. Mills were forced to close, resulting in massive unemployment and significant economic and social distress.

Despite the hardships, Lancashire cotton workers stood in support of the Union cause. They recognized that the war was, at its heart, a fight against the institution of slavery, an issue that resonated with the working class in Lancashire. 

Lincoln acknowledged this support in a letter he wrote to the workers in 1863, thanking them for their ‘sublime Christian heroism, which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country’. This letter is inscribed on the plinth of the Lincoln statue in Manchester.

The support of the Lancashire workers for the Union cause, despite their own suffering, is a significant episode in the history of international solidarity, workers’ rights, and the fight against slavery. 

The Lincoln statue stands as a symbol of this deep and enduring connection between the working class of Lancashire and the cause of freedom championed by Abraham Lincoln during the American Civil War.

Interesting Inscriptions on the Lincoln Statue 

The Abraham Lincoln statue in Manchester carries two inscriptions that capture key aspects of his presidency.

First Inscription

The front of the pedestal states: ‘Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, 1861-1865’. This inscription underlines the period Lincoln served as president during one of the most challenging times in American history – the Civil War. 

Second Inscription

The second inscription, located on the back of the pedestal, is far more personal and connects directly to Manchester. 

It contains a letter Lincoln wrote in 1863 to the working people of Manchester, and this was during the height of the Cotton Famine caused by the Civil War’s cotton blockade. Despite the hardship this caused, the workers supported Lincoln’s stance against slavery. 

The letter is a testament to their solidarity and his appreciation of it. It embodies the spirit of endurance and shared values that the statue represents.

Historic City Surroundings

The Lincoln Statue, situated in Lincoln Square, enjoys an enviable position surrounded by many of Manchester’s iconic buildings, each with their own rich history and architectural significance.

Manchester Town Hall 

This neo-gothic masterpiece, situated close to Lincoln Square, is a testament to Manchester’s prosperity during the industrial revolution. 

The Town Hall, designed by architect Alfred Waterhouse and completed in 1877, is renowned for its intricate stonework and stunning interiors, including the Great Hall with its magnificent organ and murals by Ford Madox Brown. 

Each mural illustrates a different aspect of Manchester’s history, from the Roman settlement to the industrial revolution. The building is not only a hub of city governance but also a popular location for cultural events and film shoots.

Manchester Central Library 

A stone’s throw from Lincoln Square is the Manchester Central Library, an imposing circular building inspired by the Pantheon in Rome. Completed in 1934, it is one of the largest public libraries in the UK. 

The library houses an extensive collection of books, maps, manuscripts, and digital content. It’s a place where one can immerse oneself in the rich tapestry of Manchester’s and England’s past. 

Notably, it features the ‘Shakespeare Hall’, renowned for its stained-glass windows and a frieze of historical figures, as well as the vast archives on local history in the ‘Greater Manchester County Record Office’. 

Albert Square 

Albert Square, located in the heart of Manchester, is a vibrant public space surrounded by historic buildings. Dominating the square is the Albert Memorial, a tribute to Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s consort. 

The square also features a collection of statues of prominent figures from Manchester’s history. Albert Square is a hub of activity throughout the year, hosting events like the Manchester Christmas Market, music festivals, and various cultural events that bring the city to life.

The Manchester Art Gallery, a short walk from Lincoln Square, is a prominent cultural destination. 

Housed in a beautiful Greek Revival style building, the gallery boasts a diverse collection, from European masters such as Turner and Constable to an impressive collection of Victorian art and more contemporary pieces. 

The gallery is also known for its pre-Raphaelite paintings, considered one of the largest public collections in the world. Temporary exhibitions, educational programs, and interactive events make the gallery a dynamic part of Manchester’s cultural scene.

The city’s transformation from a Roman fort to a mediaeval market town, then a hub of the industrial revolution, and now a vibrant, modern city, is evident in its diverse buildings. Be sure to take time to walk around and soak in the atmosphere of this historically rich area.

Photo Opportunities in Lincoln Statue Manchester

The Abraham Lincoln statue is a striking piece of sculpture that offers an array of great photo opportunities. 

Its detailed design and imposing stature, coupled with the backdrop of historic Manchester buildings, make it a perfect subject for both amateur and professional photographers. The statue is particularly majestic in the evening light when it’s bathed in a soft, warm glow. 

This can create dramatic shadows and highlights that emphasise the statue’s contours and details, making for a truly captivating photography. 

Don’t forget to explore wider shots that include the surrounding architecture, as well as close-ups that highlight the inscriptions and artistic details.

Exciting Guided Tours 

For those interested in delving deeper into the history and significance of the Abraham Lincoln statue and its surrounding landmarks, a guided tour can be an excellent choice. 

Guides are typically well-versed in the local history and can provide insights that you might miss if exploring on your own. 

This could include the context of the statue’s donation, the historical significance of the Cotton Famine, and the impact of Manchester’s industrial past on its present-day identity. 

Tours may also cover the architectural features of nearby buildings and their history. It’s a great way to enhance your understanding and appreciation of the statue and Manchester’s rich past.

Best Places Near Lincoln Statue Manchester

The John Rylands Library 

Situated a little way from Lincoln Square, the John Rylands Library is one of Manchester’s most significant cultural treasures. 

Opened to the public in 1900, the library was commissioned by Enriqueta Rylands in memory of her husband, John Rylands, a prominent Manchester textile manufacturer. 

The library, designed in neo-Gothic style, stands out for its beautiful historic reading room— the grand Historic Reading Room is a stunning space with high vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and rows of intricate bookcases. 

It houses an extensive collection of books, manuscripts, and archives, including the earliest known piece of the New Testament, the St John Fragment. The library also regularly hosts exhibitions showcasing items from its special collections.

Manchester Chinatown 

Manchester’s Chinatown, one of the largest in the UK, offers a vibrant slice of East Asia in the heart of the city. Its entrance is marked by a colourful Chinese arch, the gift of Manchester’s sister city, Wuhan. 

Inside, the district is buzzing with a variety of authentic restaurants offering delicious Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Nepalese, and Malaysian cuisines. There are also various Asian supermarkets and bakeries where visitors can find traditional ingredients and treats. 

Apart from the culinary delights, Chinatown is also home to Chinese medicine shops, martial arts centres, and hosts a fantastic celebration for Chinese New Year.

The Palace Theatre 

This majestic Victorian theatre is one of Manchester’s premier venues for live performances. Opened in 1891, the Palace Theatre has seen countless dramatic plays, ballets, concerts, and major West End musicals grace its stage. 

The theatre itself is an architectural delight, with its stunning red-brick facade and opulent interior design featuring delicate plasterwork and a grand proscenium arch. 

Visitors can take in a show or simply enjoy the historical ambiance of one of the UK’s most prominent regional theatres.

St. Peter’s Square 

Named after St. Peter’s Church, which once stood here, this square is a bustling hub in the city centre. 

It’s home to several historic and modern buildings, including the Manchester Cenotaph, a war memorial honouring Manchester’s war dead, and the St Peter’s Square Metrolink tram station, a key part of Manchester’s modern transport network. 

The recently renovated square is a popular gathering place and is frequently used for public events, demonstrations, and celebrations. It’s an ideal spot for visitors to observe the rhythm of Manchester city life.

National Football Museum 

Manchester is a city synonymous with football, and the National Football Museum is a tribute to this passion. Located in the striking Urbis building, the museum offers an in-depth look into the beautiful game’s history and cultural impact. 

It boasts the world’s greatest collection of football memorabilia, with over 140,000 items, including the ball from the 1966 World Cup final and shirts worn by football legends. 

Interactive exhibits offer visitors a chance to test their skills, and there are regularly changing temporary ones. Whether a die-hard football fan or a casual observer, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Manchester Cathedral 

While it’s a bit further away from Lincoln Square, Manchester Cathedral is definitely worth the walk. 

This mediaeval cathedral, dating back to the 15th century, features stunning Gothic architecture, particularly its beautiful wooden choir stalls carved with intricate detail and exquisite stained-glass windows. 

The cathedral still functions as a place of worship but also hosts concerts and cultural events. It provides a tranquil haven amidst the hustle and bustle of the city, and visitors can explore its history or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance.

Best Places to Eat

The Albert Square Chop House 

Address: The Memorial Hall, 14 Albert Square, Manchester M2 5PE, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441618341866


Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 12 to 11 PM; Friday to Saturday 12 PM to 12 AM; Sunday 12 to 10:30 PM

Set in a charmingly restored Victorian building, this restaurant offers classic British cuisine with a modern twist. 

Their menu includes dishes like Lancashire hot pot and steak & kidney pudding. The interior is inviting with an original brickwork setting and features both a dining area and a bar.

Tast Catala 

Address: 20-22 King St, Manchester M2 6AG, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441618060547

Website: +441618060547

Opening Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday and Sunday 12 to 10 PM; Wednesday to Saturday 12 to 11 PM 

A fine dining option, Tast Catala offers a taste of Catalonia right in the heart of Manchester. They serve a variety of Catalan dishes crafted by renowned chef Paco Perez, including a selection of ‘tastets’— small tasting dishes. The atmosphere is refined yet relaxed.


Address: 32 Bridge St, Manchester M3 3BT, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441615373737


Opening Hours: Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday 8 AM to 11 PM; Friday to Saturday 8 AM to 12 AM; Sunday 9 AM to 11 PM

Paying homage to the Irani cafés of Bombay, Dishoom offers a delightful mix of traditional Indian dishes in an elegantly nostalgic setting. The menu includes breakfast ‘naan rolls’, biryanis, and the must-try house black daal.

Mackie Mayor 

Address: Smithfield Market Hall, 1 Eagle St, Manchester M4 5BU, United Kingdom

Contact Details: N/A

Website: N/A

Opening Hours: Monday, closed; Tuesday to Saturday 9 AM to 10 PM; Sunday 9 AM to 6 PM

A restored 1858 market building that houses a bustling food hall with a range of vendors serving everything from artisanal coffee and organic wines to gourmet burgers and Neapolitan pizzas. A lively atmosphere with communal seating makes it a fun, casual dining option.

El Gato Negro 

Address: 52 King St, Manchester M2 4LY, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441616948585


Opening Hours: Daily 12 to 10 PM 

A popular tapas restaurant known for its delicious Spanish dishes and wide range of wines. Housed in a three-story converted townhouse with a retractable roof on the top floor, it provides a charming and intimate dining experience.

The Refuge by Volta

Address: 167 Burton Rd, West Didsbury, Manchester M20 2LN, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441614488887


Opening Hours: Monday to Thursday 12 PM to 12 AM; Friday to Saturday 12 PM to 1 AM; Sunday 12 to 11 PM

Located in the iconic Principal Hotel, The Refuge offers a globally inspired menu with small and large plates ideal for sharing. The interior features grand Victorian architecture and stylish decor, creating a unique dining atmosphere.

Siam Smiles 

Address: Deansgate Mews Unit G Upper Level Great Northern 253

Contact Details: +447460230742

Website: N/A

Opening Hours: Sunday and Monday, closed; Tuesday 4 to 8 PM; Wednesday to Saturday 11:30 AM to 8 PM 

This Thai supermarket/café offers an authentic taste of Thailand’s street food. It’s a humble and informal setting, but the food— vibrant, flavorful, and generously portioned— is a true delight.

Rudy’s Neapolitan Pizza 

Address: 9 Cotton St, Ancoats, Manchester M4 5BF, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441618208292


Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday 12 to 10 PM; Sunday 12 to 9 PM

Known for their soft, doughy, and delicious Neapolitan pizzas, Rudy’s is a relaxed and friendly spot to enjoy a casual meal. The simple, rustic interior adds to the charm.


Address: 1 The Avenue, Deansgate, Manchester M3 3AP, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441618310288


Opening Hours: Sunday to Thursday 12 to 10 PM; Friday to Saturday 12 to 11 PM

This high-end restaurant serves modern Australian cuisine with Pacific Rim flavours, all in a chic and contemporary setting. The unique below-street level entrance leads to a stylishly decorated dining space.

The French

Address: 16 Peter St, Manchester M60 2DS, United Kingdom

Contact Details: +441612354780


Opening Hours: 24/7

Located in The Midland Hotel, The French offers a high-end dining experience with a menu inspired by local and seasonal produce. The restaurant holds several awards and provides an elegant dining atmosphere.

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