Union Street, Aberdeen

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Coordinates: 57°08′42″N 2°06′11″W / 57.145°N 2.103°W / 57.145; -2.103

Looking up Union Street from the Citadel (over Castlegate, before Union Street begins)
Union Street looking east

Union Street is a major street and shopping thoroughfare in Aberdeen, Scotland.

Union Street was built to relieve the strain of the small cramped streets that people coming into the city had to navigate. It was built higher than the old town, and was designed to include the five entrances from the city. These were: Queens Road - Rubislaw and Hazelhead direction; George Street heading in from Inverurie and Morayshire; King Street heading in from the north from Bridge Of Don, Peterhead and Fraserburgh; Market Street which leads to the fishing town of Torry; and Holburn Street to the Ruthrieston and Garthdee areas of the city.[1] It was designed in the beginning of the 19th century under plans suggested by Charles Abercrombie and nearly bankrupted the city when it was built. The Denburn River still runs under Union Bridge, but has been covered over by a dual-carriageway road.

The street is approximately one mile long (0.8 miles[2]) and a feat of engineering skill involving the partial levelling of St. Catherine's Hill and the building of arches to carry the street over Putachieside.

The Denburn Valley was crossed by Union Street by Union Bridge (constructed 1801–05), which has a single span arch of 130 feet (40 m).

There are long-term plans to pedestrianise Union Street from Union Terrace to the Castlegate.[citation needed]

Shops and markets[edit]

Some of the large shops on, or accessed directly from Union Street include Marks and Spencer (on St. Nicholas Street), HMV, two Waterstones bookshops (one a former Dillons), Hugo Boss, Cruise, AllSaints, Austin Reed, Debenhams (in the Trinity Centre) and Sports Direct.

The street was home to Bruce Miller's notable musical instrument shop (established 1900) until June 2011 when it closed.

Shopping centres include the St Nicholas & Bon Accord and the Trinity Shopping Centre. In addition there are bars and a number of night-clubs on the street, a former cinema building, and a grand façade fronting the churchyard of the Kirk of St. Nicholas.

Jamie Oliver will also be opening an Italian restaurant in the former Esslemont & Mackintosh department store sometime in 2013.[needs update]

In 2012, HSBC opened their biggest Scottish branch on the street. Pret A Manger also opened.

Union Street International Market

The street used to be closed sometimes for the Saturday International Market; until this event was moved to Union Terrace which runs at right angles from approximately halfway along Union Street. In the run up to Christmas elaborate Christmas lights are displayed on gantries above and across the street. A ceremony is usually held to mark the illumination of these lights.

Granite Mile[edit]

The 'Granite Mile' is a local name for the long stretch of road that encompasses Union Street. Granite Mile begins at the 'Castlegate', or 'Mercat Cross', near Justice Street, (bottom end of Union Street). It follows the length of Union Street to Holburn Junction, (top end).


  1. ^ Diane Morgan - The Granite Mile: The Story Of Aberdeen's Union Street
  2. ^ "Map of Union Street". GoogleMaps. Retrieved 2009-09-12.