The area sits within a large bend of the River Irwell, part of which was converted into the Manchester Ship Canal and opened in 1894. The historic Manchester Docks lay within the district and the conversion of the land into a mass of terraced streets coincided with the development of the canal and the railways in the area between Manchester and Liverpool. The number of inhabitants rose from 755 in 1844 to 3,852 in 1891.
Coronation Street wasn't specifically based on Ordsall in scripting terms, but more generically on his maternal grandmother's house and similar residences all over Salford and Manchester which existed at the time. However, as the nearest terraced estate to Granada Television's Quay Street studios it made a handy location for research and filming. Warren made a recee with designer Denis Parkin to the area in the Autumn of 1960 and happened upon Archie Street, determining it as a ideal template for the fictional Coronation Street (at that point in time being named Florizel Street).
The only occasion on which filming took place on Archie Street was for the programme's first title sequence, alongside a series of photographs for establishing shots and the end credits. When producer Tim Aspinall introduced a new title sequence in Episode 366 (15th June 1964) the end credits showed Clifton Street in Ordsall as a film sequence with, on some early occasions, The Amalgamated Inn which stood of the corner of that thoroughfare and Gloucester Street. Although the film sequence was soon dropped, a photocaption from it of the cobbles survived until Episode 926 (10th November 1969).
Further location work has taken place in the area over the years for the following episodes:
- Ordsall Park was used for Episode 130 (12th March 1962) for a scene where Harry Hewitt finds a missing Concepta, and again in Episode 733 (25th December 1967) for a tug-of-war contest between the Rovers Return Inn and The Flying Horse.
- St Clement's Church which adjoined Archie Street and which was seen in all the programme's title sequences until the advent of colour television in November 1969 was used in Episode 299 (23rd October 1963) for the exterior of St. Paul's Church where Jerry Booth and Myra Dickinson were married.
- Various streets in Ordsall were used for Martha Longhurst's funeral cortege in Episode 359 (20th May 1964).
- Ordsall streets were used for the sequence in Episode 389 (2nd September 1964) where Stan Ogden takes Hilda, Irma, Ena Sharples, Minnie Caldwell, Albert Tatlock and Charlie Moffitt for a ride in Amalgamated Steel's Rolls Royce.
- The Amalgamated pub was used again in Episode 690 (26th July 1967) for the scene where Annie Walker leaves in a chauffeur-driven limousine on her way to Paris for a trip she won in a competition. The pub was again used as the exterior of the Rovers. The Grape Street set was erected the following year and first used to show the terraced side of the street in Episode 770 (1st May 1968).
- The demolished streets of Ordsall were seen in Episode 1195 (28th June 1972) when Stan Ogden discovers that the area off the fictional Selby Street that he's just agreed to take on as his window cleaning round from the thuggish Henshaw brothers no longer exists.
- The world-famous Salford Lads Club situated on the corner of Saint Ignatius Walk and the real-life Coronation Street was used for sequences in Episode 9425 (9th April 2018) and Episode 9426 (9th April 2018) for a charity boxing tournament. The same streets were used for the sequence where Joseph Brown went missing in Episode 10012 (21st February 2020).