Birmingham was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086, where it was described as a small village, home to a handful of villagers and two ploughs, with a total value of £1. From these humble beginnings, Brum transformed into an industrial and mercantile hub, building its fortunes first on the wool trade and then on metalworking from the 16th century.

The Lunar Society brought together the leading geologists, chemists, scientists, engineers and theorists of the mid-18th century and Birmingham became the world's first industrialised town, attracting a tide of workers from across the nation.

In the mid-1800s enlightened mayors, such as Joseph Chamberlain (1836–1914), cleaned out the slums and filled the city centre with grand civic buildings. Later WWII bombers and overzealous town planners took their toll, and swaths of the centre were demolished in a bid to transform Birmingham into 'Britain's Motor City'.

An explosion of regeneration projects has seen 21st-century landmarks appearing all over the city.