The 1980s saw the worst of this run-down of Sheffield's industries, along with those of many other areas of the UK.
The collapse of the dam wall of one of these reservoirs in 1864 resulted in the Great Sheffield Flood, which killed 270 people and devastated large parts of the town.
The growing population led to the construction of many back-to-back dwellings that, along with severe pollution from the factories, inspired George Orwell in 1937 to write: "Sheffield, I suppose, could justly claim to be called the ugliest town in the Old World".
In Anglo-Saxon times, the Sheffield area straddled the border between the kingdoms of Mercia and Northumbria.
The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle reports that Eanred of Northumbria submitted to Egbert of Wessex at the hamlet of Dore (now a suburb of Sheffield) in 829, but the loss of some important export markets led to a recession in the late 18th and early 19th century.
The resulting poor conditions culminated in a cholera epidemic that killed 402 people in 1832.
The influx of people also led to demand for better water supplies, and a number of new reservoirs were constructed on the outskirts of the town.
61% of Sheffield's entire area is green space, and a third of the city lies within the Peak District national park.
In the 19th century, Sheffield gained an international reputation for steel production.
Sheffield's gross value added (GVA) has increased by 60% since 1997, standing at £9.2 billion in 2007.
The economy has experienced steady growth averaging around 5% annually, greater than that of the broader region of Yorkshire and the Humber.
Many landmark buildings such as Meadowhall and the Sheffield Wednesday ground flooded due to being close to rivers that flow through the city.