East Belfast only became part of the city following an extension of the municipal boundary to take in the old townland of Ballymacarrett on the County Down bank of the River Lagan in 1853. However, Ballymacarrett had been part of Belfast in all but name since its purchase andinclusion in the Chichester estates in 1787. It was from the start an important contributor to the industrial success of the city with a glassworks, foundry, ropeworks etc, and became pre-eminent with the growth of its shipyards.
The shipyards gave a unique, close-knit character to the local community. Literally thousands of households were linked by having members working in what was at one period the world's largest single shipyard, Harland and Wolff, which at its peak had over 30000 employees.
Although East Belfast no longer rings to the sounds of shipbuilding the special community identity is still strong. Known worldwide as home to the ill-fated Titanic, the area, subsequently extended to absorb the villages of Sydenham, Strandtown and Knock, has other claims to fame. It had the world's largest ropeworks and Short Brothers (now Bombardier), pioneers in aviation and builders of the Sunderland flying boat and the Stirling bomber, established their aircraft factory in 1936.
East Belfast was the birthplace of the author C.S.Lewis and later the world famous footballer, George Best, and the singer Van Morrison. It is now home to the Northern Ireland Assembly which meets in the fine Parliament Buildings at Stormont.