THIS week’s destination is both a treasure trove of hidden architectural gems and a vibrant work in progress that reflects Glasgow’s wider story.

Just a short hop over the Clyde from Central Station, Laurieston was once one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city. It suffered considerably during the city’s industrial decline, but is now rising like a phoenix thanks to an imaginative and long overdue process of investment and regeneration.

Many Glaswegians don’t even know what an interesting and energetic place Laurieston is, but the increasingly diverse population that live and work there are keen to put their history, culture and community back on the map. It is also, of course, home to one of the city's most iconic pubs.

Historical highlights

For the purposes of this guide, I’m defining Laurieston as the bustling neighbourhood on the south bank of the Clyde that encompasses Bridge Street and Eglinton Street, Carlton Place, parts of Caledonia Road and Gorbals Street, and takes in the O2 Academy and the Citizen’s Theatre, an Alexander Greek Thomson masterpiece, one of Europe’s busiest courts and some of the best-designed new housing in Scotland.

The Laurie Brothers that give the area its name started building high-end terraces in Carlton Place in the early 1800s. The South Portland Street suspension bridge, built a few years later, was to provide a quick and easy walking route for wealthy residents to reach their office chambers. The district originally had its own railway station and an array of upmarket tenements. Alexander Greek Thomson built a church there and the British Linen Bank had its headquarters.

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But factors contrived to change Laurieston’s trajectory in the mid-19th century. As Glasgow boomed, the west end of the city became more attractive to the professional classes and ruthless developers moved in, cashing in on mass migration from Ireland and the Highlands, packing folk into poorly-built tenements.

By the late 19th century, Laurieston had some of the most over-crowded conditions in Glasgow. The People’s Palace highlights one instance of 47 people living in a single flat.

Decay set in between and after the two world wars and the wider The Gorbals area, of which Lauriston is a part, became a byword for crime and dysfunction. In the more optimistic 1960s, slums were cleared to make way for high-rises. But, as we now know, this strategy was also fatally flawed, especially as Glasgow’s industry declined. You can still see the scars of social deprivation and poor planning in Laurieston today.

But you can also see the fruits of an amazing transformation that is taking place thanks to an ambitious 20-year masterplan spearheaded by New Gorbals Housing Association. Hundreds of new homes built, with more to come, alongside more community facilities.

These days Laurieston is one of the most diverse parts of Glasgow, a vibrant mix of traditional Gorbals folk living alongside young professionals and families from all over the world.

What to do

For an urban walking tour that incorporates old and new, you can’t beat Laurieston. Arrive from the north by walking across the aforementioned suspension bridge, or take the Subway to Bridge Street. From the south, take the 38 bus.

Start at Carlton Place,with the rather faded grandeur of elegant Georgian terraces (many now solicitors' offices) that might remind you of Edinburgh’s New Town. The Brutalist Sheriff Court just a few hundred yards away is a reminder that you’re definitely in Glasgow.

Head back towards Norfolk Street, taking in the ambitious £20m refurbishment of the renowned 141-year-old Citizens Theatre, which is due to re-open in Autumn 2020, and the lovely wee Citizens Rose Garden across the road.

From there, head south through the beautiful new streets of eye-catching, award-winning homes – an mix of social and owner-occupied - that have attracted town planners from all over Europe. You can tell the architects were inspired by the quality of life offered by the tenement streets that have defined Glasgow’s most successful communities for generations, updating the streetscapes for modern living.

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Make sure you don’t miss the colourful street art along the way. Local heroes such as artist Hannah Frank, boxer Benny Lynch and the mythical Gorbals Vampire that gripped the imagination of children in the 1950s are all emblazoned on walls.

Many of the railways arches and derelict spaces in Laurieston are being taken over by artists, not least of which is Alexander Greek Thomson’s beautiful United Presbyterian Church on Caledonia Road, built in 1856. Burnt out in 1965, it is still on the at-risk register after being painfully neglected for 50 years. While its longer-term future remains uncertain, it is at least getting a new lease of life as one of the most innovative outdoor exhibition and cultural spaces in the city. “It’s a lovely wee oasis of art and calm,” says local resident Jennifer Brown. “It’s very sad that the church has been so neglected for so long, but it’s great to see it being used by artists and visited by local people.”

Work has also begun on another once-beautiful building nearby, the Linen Bank on Gorbals Street, which is being transformed into homes and shops.

Finish your tour with a stroll back down Eglinton Street, noting the Victorian railway buildings that were once home to a bustling station. Head to the aforementioned Laurieston pub, one of the city’s friendliest and most famous, for a pint of craft beer and a traditional lunch of pie and beans. Lifelong residents rub along happily with artists and hipsters in this beautifully preserved slice of vintage 1960s pub history, reflecting the changes taking place and the optimistic outlook in the neighbourhood.

Where to eat

The revamped G5 Deli in Crown Street is great for breakfast rolls, sandwiches, paninis and waffles. The delicious Equi milkshakes are worth a visit on their own.

Jim McDaid recommends The Lunch Box on Norfolk Street. “I work in the area and pop in regularly for breakfast. I'm always really impressed by the veggie options.”

The Lotus on Eglinton Street is another must-visit eaterie for vegetarians and vegans, pulling in meat-free diners from across the city with its impressive menu and friendly service.

For delicious, reasonably-priced authentic middle-eastern shared and grilled dishes, Al Sultan on Bridge Street is the place to go.

Where to shop

With its diverse population from all over the world, Laurieston and neighbouring Tradeston have some excellent Asian and Persian supermarkets, including Babylon, Bab Al-Hara and Taibah.

For one of the best selection of rugs in Glasgow, head to Little Persia on Commerce Street.

It’s not strictly a shop, but those looking to start their music career should try Gorbals Sound on Pollokshaws Road - a friendly and reasonably priced community resource.

Where to stay

You’ll get the best selection and value if you stay in the city centre and walk across the bridge to Laurieston.

Quirky: Newcomer Motel One is chic, fun, affordable and right next to Central Station. Rooms from £69.

Historic: Railways aficionados won’t want to miss the chance to stay right inside the station at Grand Central. The rooms are spacious and elegant and champagne bar harks back to the time when all the big stars (including Gene Kelly, JFK and The Rolling Stones) stayed there. Rooms from £73.

Home from home: If you’d rather stay south of the river, Airbnb lists a number of apartments in and around Laurieston. You can rent an attractive, modern one-bed flat with a balcony for £45 a night.

What to do nearby

For a game of tennis, Gorbals Leisure Centre, just a five-minute walk from Laurieston, has four lovely indoor courts, not to mention a pool, sauna and well-equipped gym.

Glasgow Green, the city’s oldest park, is also just 10-minutes away on foot. Established in the 15th century as a grazing ground and place to dry linens, it is now home to the People’s Palace, Doulton Fountain, Nelson Monument, McLennan Arch and Scotland’s national hockey centre.