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The British, of course, are fond of their past - and so are a lot of their visitors from abroad. So maybe it should come as no surprise that a 25,000 grant ($39,000) from a tax-supported trust was awarded last week to help preserve not a home or a castle, but a special tree in the heart of Sherwood Forest. The "Major Oak," an 800-year-old giant said to have been the hideaway of Robin Hood and his merry men in the 13th century, draws 765,000 visitors a year.

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Sherlock Holmes is still so popular that Japanese and Russian tourists reportedly list him as one of their Top 5 reasons for visiting London. The fictional character gets up to 40 letters a week addressed to 221B Baker Street. Now fans can also visit the debonair detective there in person, so to speak. A bronze statue of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's whodunit hero, by British sculptor John Doubleday, is to be unveiled in September.

The Sporting News names New York 'Best Sports City'

New Yorkers have one more thing to boast about. Late last month, their city was named Best Sports City for 1999 by The Sporting News. It had conducted a study of every US and Canadian community with a Major League Baseball, NFL, NBA, or NHL team; with an NCAA Division I football or basketball team; or with a major-league or NFL training camp. Then, it ranked 351 of them based on several criteria - from success of area teams and attendance at their games to ticket costs and the stability of team ownership. This year's Top 10 (with last year's ranking for each city in parentheses):

1. New York (7)

2. Dallas/Fort Worth (3)

3. Denver (5)

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4. Atlanta (16)

5. Philadelphia (6)

6. Boston (2)

7. Detroit (1)

8. San Francisco/Oakland/ San Jose (9)

9. Los Angeles/Anaheim (11)

10. Miami/Fort Lauderdale (8)

- PR Newswire

(c) Copyright 1999. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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