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Parks histories

Parks histories

A walk in the park

Central Sydney’s parks have a fascinating history reflecting local events, industries and personalities.

Here you can find when a park was established, who or what a park is named after and the different uses of a park over time.

Parks in the local area are listed below alphabetically.

Image: Hyde Park, 1916 (City of Sydney archives, CRS 51/1815).

Name About the park
Ada Place Playground A pocket park occupying 3 terrace house sites in inner-city Pyrmont, an area now experiencing rapid population growth.
Alexandria Park Built on a former tip site, this park now boasts tennis courts and a children's playground.
Arthur McElhone Reserve In the front of Elizabeth Bay House, this park enjoys panoramic views down to the heads of Sydney Harbour.
Arundel Street Playground Stands on the spot where Parramatta Road originally crossed Orphan School Creek.
Barcom Avenue Reserve Located behind St Vincent's Hospital, Darlinghurst, the reserve is part of West's Bush where blankets were distributed to Aboriginal peoples in the early 19th century.
Beaconsfield Park A popular local park for this model suburb of the 1880s.
Beare Park A magnificent harbourside park along with strong associations with 2 of Sydney’s finest houses, Elizabeth Bay House and Boomerang.
Belmore Park In front of Sydney’s Central Railway Station, contains one of the city’s most spectacular single row plantations of London plane trees.
Clyne Reserve The site of prime residences in the 1830s, located above the Darling Harbour wharves.
Cook + Phillip Park Originally 2 separate parks, Cook + Phillip Park's major redevelopment in 1997 saw construction of a modern swimming pool complex.
Eddie Ward Park Named after the ‘firebrand’ MP for East Sydney 1931-1960.
Edmund Resch Park On the site of Resch’s Waverley Brewery, now redeveloped for apartment living.
Embarkation Park Overlooking the Garden Island naval base, a popular vantage point for Sydney’s New Year’s Eve fireworks.
Ernest Pedersen Steps Built in 1885 to link Avon and Burton Streets, Glebe, the steps were named in honour of an ALP alderman of the 1950s.
Erskineville Oval The home ground for the Newtown rugby league team from 1913 to 1954 and now providing training facilities for the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Fig Lane Park  The site of the 1970s ‘Battle of Fig Street’ opposing the North West freeway.
Fitzroy Gardens  The favoured site for Sydney’s New Year’s Eve revellers from 1936 until 1976 when harbourside fireworks began.
Foley Rest Park Dr H J Foley Rest Park in Glebe is the site of the former ‘Hereford House’ and contains Glebe War Memorial.
Frog Hollow Reserve  The site of a slum demolished in the 1920s which was home to the notorious Riley Street Gang.
Giba Park A magnificent cliff-top open space overlooking the former industrial foreshore, now rehabilitated into housing and parkland.
Glebe Foreshore Park  Combines a number of existing parks with newly rehabilitated industrial sites to provide waterfront access for most of the peninsula.
Green Park The park in Darlinghurst contains the Gay and Lesbian Holocaust Memorial and the Victor Chang Memorial. 
Hansom Cab Place  A children’s playground named after the area’s former hansom cab stables.
Harmony Park  Part of the Brisbane Street slum clearance of 1924 and after decades of neglect was converted to a park in 2006. 
Harry Noble Reserve Part of Erskineville Park where a model housing scheme was built in 1938.
Hollis Park The proposed site for Kingston Public School but became recreational space for the grand terrace houses surrounding it. 
Hugo Street Reserve  The site of houses which became derelict in the Great Depression. It was converted to a playground in the 1950s. 
Hyde Park  Sydney’s oldest park contains the Anzac War Memorial, Archibald Fountain and Captain Cook Statue. 
James Street Reserve  Adjoins the former Wunderlich factory site, now the Surry Hills Shopping Village.  
James Watkinson Reserve  In front of Ways Terrace, Pyrmont, was saved from oblivion in the 1990s by a community campaign.  
Jessie Street Gardens  At Circular Quay, the former site of Custom House Chambers was created in 1989 in association with the Gateway development.
Joynton Park  Entrepreneur Joynton Smith’s Victoria Park Racecourse and the British Motor Corporation factory were formerly on the site.  
Lang Park  Sydney’s first Anglican church was built here in 1798.
Lawrence Hargrave Reserve  Built on the roof of Kings Cross car park in 1978 and named after the Australian aviation pioneer who lived nearby.  
Lewis Hoad Reserve  Named after the local boy who became the world’s number 1 tennis player in 1956.  
Lilian Fowler Reserve  Commemorates Australia’s first woman mayor and the first female member of the NSW Parliament.  
Macleay Reserve  Originally the eastern ‘wood walk’ of Alexander Macleay’s Elizabeth Bay House, now surrounded by historic twentieth century apartment buildings. 
Macquarie Place Park  Contains the obelisk erected by Governor Macquarie in 1818 to mark the place from which public roads in the colony were measured. 
Marriott Street Reserve  Part of the site of John Baptist’s nursery which operated from the 1830s to the 1900s. 
May Pitt Playground  Named after the second female mayor of Glebe. 
Munn Street Reserve  Created in 1981 as part of Sydney’s port redevelopment 
Observatory Park  Offers one of the most spectacular vantage points in Sydney and is a popular spot for weddings. 
Paddington Reservoir Gardens  Site of the heritage-listed reservoir which supplied Sydney’s water from 1878 to 1899. 
Peace Park  Originally the site of Shepherd’s Darling Nursery from 1827 to the 1860s, and was named in the 1980s in recognition of nuclear disarmament campaigns. 
Pemulwuy Park  Named after the Aboriginal resistance leader killed in 1802. 
Perry Park  Home of the Alexandria Basketball Stadium, formerly market gardens and later a council rubbish rip. 
Prince Alfred Park  The first park to be laid out in connection with a major Australian exhibition. 
Pyrmont Point Park  A former industrial site recycled as a harbourside park featuring the sculpture ‘Tied to Tide’. 
Reconciliation Park  Named in the 1990s to acknowledge national concern for Aboriginal peoples and contains the 1985 Sulman Prize-winning mural ‘Think Globally Act Locally’.  
Redfern Park  The site of Paul Keating’s famous 1992 speech is a typical Victorian pleasure garden and home to the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
Rushcutters Bay Park

Built on land reclaimed from the water with a close-up view of yachts moored at the Cruising Yacht Club including entrants in the annual Sydney-Hobart race.  

Shannon Reserve Established in 1939 and home to the monthly Surry Hills markets. 
South Sydney Rotary Park  On the site of the former Eveleigh Railway Workshop and the Camellia Grove Nursery. 
Sydney Park Formerly the Bedford Brickworks which played a significant role in building Sydney’s suburbs over a period of more than 100 years. 
Thomas Portley Reserve A former house site which was named after a respected local charity worker. 
Trinity Avenue Playground  Owned by former convict Andrew Byrne, whose house was demolished for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.  
Turruwul Park Provides sporting facilities for local industries as well as residents of this model suburb founded in 1912. 
Union Square Created in 1998 with the closure of Union Street and contains the Pyrmont War Memorial. 
Victoria Park  Next to Sydney University and contains the oldest post-war swimming pool in Sydney, built in 1953. 
Waratah Street Reserve  Part of reclaimed land and named after nearby Waratah house.  
Waterloo Park  A green space in an area of large scale industry, rows of terrace housing and groups of workers’ cottages. 
Wentworth Park  Formerly the swampy mouth of Blackwattle Creek, reclaimed from the water in the 1870s and the home of greyhound racing since 1932. 
Wynyard Park  Originally the military parade ground and later a landscaped square, with a long association with public transport. 
Yellomundee Park  Renamed in 1995 after the Aboriginal leader of the Richmond tribes. 

 

 

Last updated: Wednesday, 27 March 2013