The area was once an industrial area and busy commercial dockside serving the area, while the Newcastle side also hosted a regular street market. In recent years as the docks became run-down, and the area has since been heavily redeveloped to provide a modern environment for the modern arts, music and culture, as well as new housing developments. The NewcastleGateshead initiative now lists the Quayside as a top ten attraction.
Along the Newcastle side is an area that houses restaurants, bars and night clubs as well as housing and the Newcastle Law Courts. Quayside is also the name of the street running along the Newcastle riverside.
The Gateshead side of the river is designated and sign-posted as Gateshead Quays. It is the site of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead performing arts and conference centre. Also moored on the Gateshead side from 1984 until 2008 was the Tuxedo Princess (replaced for a time by sister ship Tuxedo Royale), a floating nightclub, beneath the Tyne Bridge near The Sage.
One of the Quayside's main features is the pedestrian Gateshead Millennium Bridge, opened in 2001, which spans the river between the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Newcastle Law Courts. The other bridge which allows direct road and pedestrian links between the two banks is the low level Swing Bridge, built in 1876, and located nearer the two respective city centres. Using the two bridges, the Quayside is the venue for the junior course of the annual Great North Run.
While most commercial bus services do not serve the quayside directly, there is however a Nexus contract with one bus company. The current bus company is Go North East, formerly it was Stagecoach North East-with part funding from councils for electric hybrid vehicles, Design Olymbus.
QuayLink connects most of the main attractions and destinations in Newcastle-Gateshead serving those who live, work, study, or those just visiting the area.
The buses run frequently, from early until late, 7 days a week. There are two QuayLink routes: Q1 serves Central Station, Monument, the Quayside, The Sage Gateshead, Gateshead College's Baltic Campus, BALTIC and Gateshead Interchange Q2 serves Haymarket, Monument, the Quayside, Ouseburn Valley and on to St Peter's Basin Both services travel between Newcastle Quayside and Monument via Dean Street and Grey Street.