WORLD Heritage Site status may have been bestowed upon us, but in March this year another honour which may prove to be just as significant - especially perhaps in terms of tourism revenue - was entrusted to Merseyside.
The White House-sponsored American Civil War Preservation Trust jointly made Liverpool and the Wirral a Civil War heritage site. It is only the second location outside the United States - Cherbourg is the other - recognised in such a way and it is an honour that has been taken very seriously both sides of the Mersey for good reason.
The Merseyside area's links with the New World stretch back more than 400 years and there are a myriad of buildings and locations which attest to that. But it was the Civil War between the forces of the Union and the Confederacy of the southern states from 1861 to 1865 which produced some of most interesting site connections.
The reason why was simple. The merchants of Liverpool - then the second biggest city of the British Empire - had profited from the slave trade until Parliament abolished any British involvement in it 1807. But its close links with the Southern states of America, where most of the slave plantations were located, continued with raw cotton being imported though Liverpool to supply the Lancashire cotton mills.
When the war broke out, this country remained officially neutral. However, sympathies remained with the North because of the slavery connection and the passing of President Abraham Lincoln's emancipation bill in 1861. Sentiment in Liverpool, though, was less straightforward and some of the more powerful merchants were still sympathetic to the South. They felt the direct consequences of the war as the Northern navy blockaded Southern ports preventing the cotton reaching here disrupting trade and leading to thousands of mill workers being laid off.
So, although there may have been many supporters for the North in the city, the backers of the Confederacy made the most impact and Liverpool came to be popularly associated with the South in the way no other British city was. Significantly, Merseyside is legendary for being host to both the first and final acts of the war.
The opening shot was fired from a "fossets" gun made by Fawcett and Preston, based in Duke Street. The last action was the surrender of the Confederate raider Shenandoah, by Lt Commander James Waddell, at Liverpool in November, 1865.
Local historian 63-year-old Len Ellison, from Gayton, Wirral, is a member of the Civil War Preservation Trust. He is also the librarian for the American Civil War Round Table and has more than 500 books about the conflict.
Not surprisingly, he was one of those principally responsible for choosing the sites on the heritage trail which he believes may bring thousands of extra American visitors to the area especially in the run-in to Capital of Culture year, in 2008.