Created in the 19th century to link Salford with the Irish Sea, this bustling inland waterway initially allowed Manc merchants to export cotton goods to the world, bypassing their neighbours on Merseyside who were accused of exploiting their coastal advantage.
By the late 1990's, though, the area had fallen into decay. I can remember watching matches at nearby Old Trafford during Euro 96, and although the newly built Lowry Outlet shopping mall hinted at what was to come, it still seemed inconceivable that this foreboding and desolate site would become the UK's most significant regional broadcasting centre – not to mention a major tourist attraction.
Now it's not only home to a range of BBC output including 5 Live and childrens' telly, it also plays host to ITV's most prestigious soap Coronation Street and a couple of commercial radio stations. There's the Lowry Arts Centre too – and the northern outpost of the Imperial War Museum.
It is, in short, a success – in many ways the model regeneration project.
Yet amid the bustling bars and yuppie flats, there is one awkward question it's hard to avoid asking.
Where is the family housing that would make Media City feel a bit more like a real community, rather than an oasis of privilege and luxury among one of Britain's toughest neighbourhoods?
Judged purely by what it is though – rather than what it isn't – Media City is a remarkable phenomenon. Alongside two great football clubs and an impressive musical heritage, it has helped consolidate Greater Manchester's claim to be England's heaviest pop culture puncher outside of London.
The fact that Media City is located in the drabber outskirts of town is welcome antidote, too, to the centralisation of attractions and resources in many city centres.
Architects have capitalised on its waterside location to play with light and form to create a starkly modern landscape – not flawless by any means, but nevertheless a fine example of how decades of seemingly interminable decline can be sharply slammed into reverse.