About Pyrmont

Across Darling Harbour from the City Centre, Pyrmont and Ultimo have been shaped by the City’s needs. In the early days of European settlement, John Harris created Ultimo Estate and John Macarthur planned something similar for Pyrmont. The outcome was more modest. Pyrmont was well placed for industries that were essential to the City but unwelcome to its citizens. Boat-building, iron foundries and abattoirs flourished; then sandstone was quarried on an immense scale. Deep water attracted port facilities and railways. The peninsula became the noisy, smelly, crowded home for workers in these industries, and especially sugar refining, distilling and building materials. In the 1930s the Burley Griffins built a world class incinerator to replace the rubbish dumps that spilled out of old quarries.

As industries expanded, professionals fled to outer suburbs, ordinary workers were squeezed out, and the population declined from the 1890s. A century later, heavy industries also moved out. The area was still handy for the City, so the old companies and cottages were replaced by media and IT firms, and high-rise apartments. Once a by-word for squalor, Pyrmont became a poster-child for urban renewal. This website describes this transformation and its effects on the people who lived and worked here.

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