King Street, Newtown, Sydney
King Street is today the central thoroughfare of the suburb of Newtown in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It's in this street that the residents of the area are most visible, confirming Newtown's reputation as a cosmopolitan community with a higher than average concentration of students, homosexuals and those with an artistic bent who tend to dress with colourful flair. The street can be divided geographically into two sections, North and South. King Street is particularly notable for the many picturesque Victorian and Edwardian era shops and other buildings that line the street.
North King Street
North King Street, running east-north-east to west-south-west between the University of Sydney (where it joins with City Road), past Newtown railway station at the junction with Enmore Road, is the stretch that most people associate with King Street. This area is a very busy thoroughfare, with traffic jams the rule rather than the exception, heavy foot traffic, and a profusion of restaurants, cafés and fashion retailers. King Street was served by a busy tramway until the system's closure in 1957(Keenan 1979).
Like Parramatta Road, King Street is believed to follow the line of ancient Aboriginal track that led from the Sydney Cove area south-west across to Botany Bay. Prior to white settlement, the local Aboriginal population kept the Sydney area well cleared with regular low-level fires. Colonial officer Watkin Tench recorded that during the early years of the colony, the area beyond the settlement was, in effect, open parkland, and that it was possible to walk easily across country from Sydney Cove to Botany Bay.
South King Street
South King Street was by contrast the down-market section, with less traffic and fewer retailers, running southwards from the station to Sydney Park. In recent years, the far northern section seems to have lost most of its lustre, while the central section has become almost glamorous, and South King Street has attracted a cluster of design shops and homeware shops, which along with assorted small quirky businesses and cafés, has made it one of the most interesting strips in Sydney. It is sometimes referred to as the 'Paris end' of King Street. The southern end of South King Street, between Lord and Alice Streets (Lord Alice Strip), features three theatres (New Theatre, King Street Theatre and Sydney Independent Theatre Company (SITCO)), and three pubs (Union Hotel, Botany View Hotel and Sydney Park Hotel).
King Street has also become quite residential above the shops: many development proposals include large numbers of apartments above the retail sections. The street, as a whole, is the best-preserved Victorian era high street in Sydney, and development controls ensure that this will not change, even though it came about by luck. At the crucial time when Victorian buildings were being demolished elsewhere, Newtown was too unfashionable to make development profitable.
In popular culture
- The Whitlams band became popular for its performances in 'The Sando', South King St. Newtown
- King St is referenced in The Lemonheads song My Drug Buddy.
1. Keenan, D. (1979), Tramways in Sydney, Sydney, Australia: Transit Press.