The area and its buildings today
The regular grid pattern of streets established in Georgian times is still in existence. Where open spaces are created by the removal of a block of buildings, it is essential that the character of the area is retained by maintaining the street pattern. The most significant buildings, such as the Art Gallery, are situated on the wider streets at the periphery of the conservation area.
The City Art Gallery in Mosley Street was designed by Sir Charles Barry, who later designed the Houses of Parliament. It is a two-storey stone building in Greek Ionic style and is regarded as one of Manchester's finest buildings, being one of only twelve Grade I listed buildings in the City.
The Athenaeum on Princess Street is adjacent to the Art Gallery and now annexed to it. Sir Charles Barry was the premier architect in Britain when invited to design this stone building in the Italian Palazzo style. The details show the influence of the palaces of Rome and Florence, whilst the Athenaeum itself provided the pattern for many of the great Victorian warehouses of Manchester.
The Italian Palazzo style of architecture is very much in evidence in Charlotte Street, where most of the warehouses on one side of the street were designed by one architect, Edward Walters, in the mid-19th century. Late-19th century buildings may be seen on Princess Street, where the tall chimneys along the frontage reflect the insurance requirements at the time, which demanded that open fires be located at the front of buildings.
Near the junction of Portland and Princess Streets, some of the small-scale Georgian buildings still survive, many of them accommodating small shops and public houses.