The development of Surry Hills has been a social rollercoaster – from elegant estates and mansions in the 1820s and 30s, to crowded and slum like conditions in the 1890s. Elegant estates and magnificent mansions such as Durham Hall, Cleveland House and Albion House stood proud, but increased development from 1850–90 changed the facade of Surry Hills as it transformed into a crowded residential area.
The Sydney Municipal Council did not have the legislative power to compel speculative builders to connect houses to water supplies, and the construction of thoroughfares was slow and poorly done. This was exacerbated by the depression of the 1890s which devastated the area, with high crime rates, poverty and poor quality housing conditions rife.
Salvation for the area began to emerge in the post-war period as migrants moved into the area and renovated the deteriorated houses. This process began to turn the suburb around, and proximity to the city proved attractive to young professionals who flocked to the suburb in the 1970s and 1980s.
Today, Surry Hills is a distinctive, cosmopolitan suburb with the once despised terrace house now premium real estate that is highly sought after.
About the speaker:
Richard Whitaker is known as Australia’s premiere weather man, with a career spanning over 40 years. Richard was Chief Meteorologist at Sky News until his retirement in 2016 and has also co-authored and edited 12 meteorological publications. His writings extend to the field of history and he maintains an interest with Foxtel as a writer for the History Channel and the Crime Investigation Channel.
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