Surry Hills


Inner-city suburb located immediately to the south east of the central business district. After explosive growth in the second half of the nineteenth century it came to be seen as a slum, then experienced gentrification from the late 1960s.

Redfern to Sydney CBD

Surry Hills

by Garry Wotherspoon and Chris Keating, 2009 Creative Commons License

Surry Hills, on Cadigal land, provided grazing, garden produce, timber, stone and clay to the new colony, and wealthy colonists built country houses there. Subdivision from the 1830s made it one of Sydney's most populous districts by the 1890s. Poor drainage and building rapidly created slum conditions, rife with crime and poverty. Demolitions and remodelling by city and state governments made some improvements, but after World War II, when industry moved out and residents shifted to newer suburbs, Surry Hills became attractive to new migrants and was revitalised.
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Surry Hills demographics

Albion Brewery promissory note c1840s
Albion House and Albion Brewery, Surry Hills c1840
Chinese laundry, Surry Hills 1880
Demolition of Exeter Place, Surry Hills 1900
Goodlet and Smith pottery, Surry Hills 1871
Liquor Referendum sign and advertisements, Surry Hills June 1916
Plan of the streets of the town of Sydney, 13 April 1832
McElhone Place in Surry Hills, one of the slums of Sydney 1930s
Sydney from Surry Hills 1819
Grocery store on the corner of Bourke and Fitzroy Streets during bread price war in the Depression, Surry Hills 1934
Cleveland House, Surry Hills 1990
Backyards, Exeter Place, Surry Hills 1900
Terraces in Waine Street, Surry Hills c1910
Smallpox precautions in Bellevue Street, Surry Hills 1881
Government Public Housing Development, Surry Hills c1960s
Cleveland Street Public School c1885
Children playing in Frog Hollow, Surry Hills 1949
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, Bourke Street, Surry Hills 2009
Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox church, Bourke Street, Surry Hills 2009
Cleveland Street Public School interior showing infants class December 1909
Railway Institute, Chalmers Street February 1919
Intercolonial Exhibition, Prince Alfred Park 1870
Crown Street Reservoir mechanical workshop, Surry Hills c1915
Steam driven pump, Crown Street Pumping Station, Surry Hills c1915
Wesleyan Day and Sabbath School, Botany Street, Surry Hills 1864
The old Nevada Hotel painted with a Tooth's 'Sheaf Stout' beer advertisment, 1930s
The Gaelic Club, 56-64 Devonshire Street Surry Hills 17 January 2009
From near Surry Hills, April 1860
Demolishing the old Devonshire St Cemetery for the new Central Railway Station c1900
Plan of grounds to be appropriated for Sydney Railway, 1849
The Karitane Products factory at 72 Buckingham Street 1930
Boundary post No 38 - Cleveland Street and South Dowling Street 2012
Detail of plan of Riley Estate 1844
James Brechney and friend Wladi drawing the original DIY Rainbow, Commonwealth Lane, Surry Hills 11 April 2013
Claudette Roy, local resident, on social change in Surry HillsEnid Cook, community activist and local resident, on migrants and 1970s Surry HillsCoral Dasey, local resident, talks about 1940s Surry HillsJohn Rule, former coordinator of the Surry Hills Neighbourhood Centre, on social diversity and AIDS in Surry Hills