A center of commerce during the Industrial Revolution, Birmingham is now the second largest city in England. Promotional materials often mention that Birmingham has more canals than Venice or Amsterdam (in terms of overall length). Because it is such a large city, the canals do not play a central part in the lives of most locals.
While much of Birmingham is filled with modern buildings, one of the best ways to get a taste of the city's Victorian heyday is to cruise the canal networks, which were used to transport goods during the Industrial Revolution's manufacturing boom. Pleasant parks and walking paths have been built beside some of the canals, while others loop past areas that have changed little in the past 100 years.