One may be forgiven for assuming that Luton is a relatively new city in the grand scheme of things. After all, the London Luton Airport positively screams modern even though it was built in the 1930s. The famed Vauxhall Motors factory, pioneers in auto manufacturing, has its home in Luton and only dates back to 1905. Compared to many other cities that are within forty miles of London, Luton seems steeped in the post-industrial age. The truth, though, is that Luton is an incredibly old city and not in the way that Cambridge or Pembroke are old: Luton was first settled during the Paleolithic Era over two hundred and fifty thousand years ago!
Owing to its age, Luton is a paleontologist's wet dream. Aside from the oldest encampments, settlements from the Mesolithic and Neolithic periods have also been uncovered, including graves and ceremonial plots that are over ten thousand years old. A look through Luton's bedrock is like taking a primer course throughout all the great ages from the Stone Age to the Bronze Age and further on until Luton became a largely agricultural town with a sizable market square in the 1200s. By this time the town first became known as Leueton.
It wasn't until the 1600s, however, that Luton became what could truly be called a "city". The catalyst for Luton's swift and strong growth during this century was due, strangely, to hats. Luton became known around the world as one of the premier manufacturers in the hat making industry and people flocked to the city from all around to peruse the unique wares made in-house. Even through the Industrial Revolution hats were a massive part of Luton's income and, to this day, hats are still made in the old tradition in Luton.
Like many towns that experienced multiple waves of differing industries, Luton has been subject to immigration from various different ethnicities over the years. Irish and Scottish expatriates flocked to Luton in the early 1900s but a large mass of Asians and British Asians followed not long after and have continued to find a home in Luton ever since. Today, Asians make up nearly a fifth of Luton's population, compared to England's average five percent makeup of Asian peoples. In more recent years, though, Eastern Europeans have started to see the appeal of Luton's beautiful landscape and so have also began to flock to the city in droves. This healthy mix-up has made Luton one of the more diverse areas in England not just for ethnicity but also for religion. Over fifteen percent of the citizens of Luton are Muslim and this has much to do with nine percent of the population being of Pakistani descent. Despite the many ideological differences of the people of Luton, though, the city is largely free of crime and strife. This is a testament to the fact that Luton welcomes people of all backgrounds into its comfortable city limits and treats everybody equally and fairly. If only every city were this inviting.