North Sydney is surrounded by Lavender Bay, Kirribilli, Crows
Nest, Milsons Point and Neutral Bay. It is known for having one of the largest
CBDs in the country, which serves the entire Sydney region. The North Sydney
CBD contains numerous landmarks, including the Stanton Library and the
Located on the traditional land of the Cammeraygal people, the area began to be
settled in the early 1800s when Sir Thomas Mitchell was assigned the task of
reporting on the suitability of this land for grants. Mitchell suggested the
development of subdivisions, open spaces and road, and although his plan was
not accepted, it did reveal the potential of the area. By the mid-19th century,
the area that was to become North Sydney was being resurveyed, and the basic
road structure had been established. The site of the township, now the CBD,
contained just under 50 half acre allotments.
First named St. Leonards in 1838, the name of North Sydney was adopted in 1890
in the hopes that the association with Sydney would bring the newly established
suburb popularity and prestige. Lot sales were initially slow until the 1850s
and 60s, when housing began to boom, and villas, terraces and cottages sprang
up in subdivisions across the township. Beautiful Federation and Victorian
homes were built in exclusive subdivisions to house parliamentarians, doctors
and businessmen. The population was diverse and included labourers and a solid
middle class. The township further grew as schools, churches and entertainment
venues, including the Coliseum Theatre, were built.
Growth slowed during the depression, and land values dropped. The town hall was
relocated to a residential neighbourhood. New development in the suburb became
largely rebuilding and remodeling. Many of the formerly grand homes that had
occupied the more exclusive subdivisions were converted into boarding houses
and hotels. However, the population continued to decline during the two world
Land prices dropped dramatically, and after World War II, several companies
snapped up plots in order to develop their corporate headquarters. MLC Limited
opened in 1957, and the AMP built the first high-rise block of offices in the
suburb, which substantially influenced later high-rise concepts in the area.
Advertising, banking, insurance and other businesses flocked to North Sydney.
Many of the original buildings that had dotted the streetscape were demolished
as the new development took over. Building began to boom once again, and North
Sydney was called Sydney’s “Twin City”. Heritage and resident groups whose goal
it was to preserve historic buildings and demand a more balanced approach to
development were formed.
Although North Sydney today continues to be largely commercial, it is also home
to Luna Park, a family friendly amusement park, on Lavender Bay. Balmoral and
several areas along the coastline feature quiet beaches and picnicking.
Historic features include Kirribilli House and the homes of the Prime Minister
and Governor-General, all of which are located east of the Harbour Bridge. The
Museum at Mary MacKillop Place, the Stanton Library and Walker Street Cinema
are all popular stops for tourists.
Visitors can reach North Sydney by road, bus or train from Sydney’s CBD. The
Neutral Bay ferry service also offers stops at North Sydney.