It is within the City and Metropolitan Borough of Bradford but is outside Bradford itself (it was also outside the pre-1974 Bradford county borough boundaries, forming an urban district in its own right), although the town forms a continuous urban area with Bradford. It has a population of approximately 28,162.
In Shipley is a World Heritage Site: the village of Saltaire, which was planned by the industrialist Sir Titus Salt to house the workforce at his mill. Salt built the mill beside the Leeds and Liverpool Canal for the manufacture of alpaca and woollen cloth. Salts Mill is no longer used for textile production, but now contains the 1853 Gallery, dedicated to the work of David Hockney, along with a variety of shops, restaurants and local businesses, including Pace Micro Technology.
To the north of Shipley, across the River Aire, is a wooded ridge called Shipley Glen (the word "glen" referring to the little valley beneath the ridge). This has long been a popular beauty spot, and in 1895 the Shipley Glen Tramway was built to carry visitors up to the top. The tramway has weathered periods of neglect and even closure, but at present (2008) it runs most weekends, staffed by volunteers.
Shipley railway station serves the town, and has an unusual triangular layout, corresponding to the Skipton to Leeds line, the Leeds to Bradford (Forster Square) line, and the Bradford to Skipton/Ilkley lines. There are also railway stations in the suburbs of Saltaire and Baildon. There is also a small bus station in Shipley Market Place.
England spin bowler Jim Laker is from Shipley. He still holds the world record for the number of wickets taken by one player in a first-class cricket match - 19 out of a possible 20 (Old Trafford 1956, vs Australia). A residential street in the Moorhead district of Shipley has been named Jim Laker Place, in his memory.
TV actor Steven Hartley comes from Shipley.