The carriageway surfacing of almost all roads in the area is asphalt, while a few minor streets retain the earlier stone setts.
Footways have been replaced over the years with either tarmacadam or concrete flags, although stone flags remain, particularly in Little Quay Street, which has been extended to form a forecourt for the Grapes hotel. Few original stone kerbs remain, most having been replaced by concrete. Street lighting is provided by modern fittings, e.g. tall steel columns.
Walls of buildings are constructed from a wide range of high-quality materials such as stone, red-orange brick, terracotta and faience. Some of the stone buildings are intricately carved with fine sculptural detail. These heavy, solid materials are fenestrated by predominantly vertically-proportioned openings with sliding sash windows set back from the external face of the building.
Roofs of buildings, where they can be seen, are clad in slate which is usually blue-grey but occasionally green. The skylines of some buildings are made interesting by cornices and balustrades.
Building heights vary from fourteen-storey office developments such as Sunlight House on Quay Street, to the three-storey shops on Bridge Street and the properties backing on to them in Wood Street.
Generally, streets in the area are totally built up, presenting a complete street-wall frontage even though occasionally some buildings are set back behind the building line. At road junctions, buildings have traditionally 'held' the corner by some form of architectural emphasis.
Generally, buildings in the area display the Manchester characteristic of a tri-partite subdivision of the elevations, consisting of an over-large ground floor, a less highly modelled middle section and a varied top level seen against the sky.