Kings Cross, New South Wales facts for kids

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Kings Cross
SydneyNew South Wales
(1)Darlinghurst Road-1.jpg
Darlinghurst Road, Kings Cross
Population: 20,018
Coordinates: 33°52′25″S 151°13′25″E / 33.87373°S 151.22357°E / -33.87373; 151.22357Coordinates: 33°52′25″S 151°13′25″E / 33.87373°S 151.22357°E / -33.87373; 151.22357
Location: 2 km (1 mi) east of Sydney CBD
LGA: City of Sydney
Localities around Kings Cross:
Potts Point Potts Point Elizabeth Bay
Woolloomooloo Kings Cross Rushcutters Bay
Darlinghurst Darlinghurst Darlinghurst

Kings Cross is an inner-city locality of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is located approximately 2 kilometres east of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the City of Sydney. It is bounded by the suburbs of Potts Point, Elizabeth Bay, Rushcutters Bay and Darlinghurst.

Colloquially known as The Cross and is reputed to be home to organised crime groups. Once known for its music halls and grand theatres, it was rapidly transformed after World War II by the influx of troops returning and visiting from the nearby Garden Island naval base. Today, it is a mixed locality offering both services (railway, gyms, supermarket, bakeries) to nearby residents and entertainment venues including bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to visitors.

History

Kings Cross Sydney 1950
Trams and trolley buses pass through Kings Cross intersection in the 1950s
William Street Sydney from air
William Street and Kings Cross from the air in the 1950s

European settlement

The intersection of William Street, Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street at the locality's southernmost limit was named Queen's Cross to celebrate Queen Victoria's diamond jubilee in 1897. Confusion with Queen's Square in King Street in the city prompted its renaming as Kings Cross, after King Edward VII, in 1905.

During the early 19th century the Darlinghurst area, which extended to include current day Kings Cross, was one of Sydney's most prestigious locations. Being far enough to escape the noise and smell of the central city but close enough for easy travel. An additional attraction was the commanding harbour views to the east and north and (from some points) views to the west as far as the Blue Mountains.

In 1828, the Governor of NSW Sir Ralph Darling subdivided the area, then known as Woolloomooloo Hill, into large allotments which he granted seventeen estates to favoured subordinates and leading businessmen. They built a series of grandiose mansions with sprawling gardens of up to ten acres (4 ha). The remnants of these gardens helped give the area its leafy character, and many of the mansions are commemorated through street names such as Roslyn, Orwell and Kellett. Most of the grand estates were ultimately subdivided with all but a handful of the great houses demolished. One of the surviving homes, located nearby in the suburb of Elizabeth Bay, is Elizabeth Bay House, a quintessential example of Australian colonial architecture. Others, now used for other purposes, include Tusculum in Manning Street and Rockwall. A prominent past resident of this era was David Scott Mitchell.

Bohemian district

The Kings Cross district was Sydney's bohemian heartland from the early decades of the 20th century. The illegal trading of alcohol, known as sly grog, was notorious in the area up until mid-century. The area was home to a large number of artists, including writers, poets and journalists including Kenneth Slessor, Christopher Brennan, Hal Porter, George Sprod and Dame Mary Gilmore, entrepreneur Mayfield B. Anthony, actors including Peter Finch and Chips Rafferty, and painter Sir William Dobell.

Kings Cross circa 1960's
Kings Cross circa 1960.

From the 1960s onwards Kings Cross also came to serve as both the city's main tourist accommodation and entertainment mecca. It thereby achieved a high level of notoriety out of all proportion to its limited geographical extent. Hundreds of American servicemen on R & R (rest and recreation) leave flocked to the area each week in search of entertainment. Organised crime and police corruption was well entrenched in the area – one of Sydney's most notorious illegal casinos operated with impunity for many years, although it was known to all and located only yards from Darlinghurst police station. Much of this activity can be related with Abe Saffron, commonly known as Mr Sin or "the boss of the Cross".

A positive influence in the area during that time was The Wayside Chapel, run by the late Rev Ted Noffs. His church was open most of the time, providing a "drop in centre" and counselling services to many of the itinerants who were drawn to the area. The Ted Noff Foundation, established in 1971, continues his work supporting young people and their families who are experiencing drug and alcohol problems and related trauma.

Juanita Nielsen, a journalist and publisher, campaigned against property development in the Kings Cross area during the 1970s until her sudden disappearance on 4 July 1975. A coronial inquest determined that Nielsen had been murdered, and although the case has never been officially solved, it is widely believed that Nielsen was killed by agents of the developers.

El Alamein Fountain, Sydney
El Alamein Fountain

As a celebration to commemorate the Stonewall Riots, the inaugural Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras pro-gay rights protest march was held on the evening of 24 June 1978. After the protest march, participants were subject to police harassment in Hyde Park, following the revocation of the original protest permit. Some participants headed to Kings Cross where police arrested 53 people, although most of the charges were later dropped. Australia's first widely known transgender person, Carlotta, rose to prominence in Kings Cross whilst working at Les Girls (nightclub), The Tender Trap, and soap opera Number 96 (TV series).

The reduction in opioid-related overdoses was much more substantial in the immediate vicinity of the MSIC than in other neighbouring areas. ... Counts of discarded needles and syringes collected locally indicated a decrease of around 50% following the establishment of the service.

Near King Cross station - panoramio
Kings Cross station on the left, present day

Today

Today with the ongoing operation of tourist accommodation, the proximity to social housing & health care, and the convenient public transport to the city results in a diverse population both resident and passing through at Kings Cross. Since the introduction of controversial lockout laws in March 2014 several nightclubs and pubs in the area have closed down.

Landmarks

Coca Cola Billboard
Coca-Cola Billboard
Painting by Paquita Sabrafen
Paintings by notable artist Paquita Sabrafen in a restaurant on Kings Cross Road
(1)Darlinghurst Fire Station-a
Fire Station & Kirketon Road Centre, Darlinghurst Road
  • The El Alamein Fountain is at the entrance to the Fitzroy Gardens on the corner of Darlingurst Road and Macleay Street was commissioned as a memorial to soldiers who died in 1942 during World War II in two battles at El Alamein, Egypt. It was designed in 1961 by the New Zealand-born architect Robert Woodward. Its dandelion design, which has since been copied for fountains around the world, was Woodward’s original design.
  • The Coca-Cola sign, this has since been turned off and replaced in 2016 with a new sign. Pieces of the original sign were auctioned off on eBay with proceeds going to the Wayside Chapel.
  • The Fire Station at the intersection of Darlinghurst Road and Victoria Street was designed by the Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, and built from 1910-12. It is an example of the Federation Free Style and is now listed on the Register of the National Estate.
  • Kings Cross railway station is an underground railway station on the Eastern Suburbs & Illawarra Line of the Sydney Trains network.
  • The Les Girls building, now known as the Empire Hotel, stood prominently on the corner of Darlinghurst Road and Roslyn Street, in the heart of the Cross. From 1963 until 1993 the building was home to the legendary Les Girls "drag queen" show, starring Carlotta. Throughout the 1990s the building, still retaining its original 1960s features, became the home to alternative cabaret, including the much-loved Sunday nightclub The Tender Trap.

Culture

Events and celebrations

  • The Kings Cross Food and Wine Festival is a local annual event held in autumn by the Potts Point Partnership, a business action group.

Popular culture

  • Kings Cross has made several appearances in popular Australian culture including Paul Kelly's song "From St Kilda to Kings Cross" from the album Post.
  • The 1999 Australian crime film Two Hands starring actor Heath Ledger was partly filmed in Kings Cross.
  • Clare Werbeloff, became known as the Kings Cross Bogan following her eyewitness account of a shooting outside a Kings Cross nightclub, which turned out to be a hoax. Her politically incorrect report to a television news cameraman spread online via YouTube and made her an internet celebrity.
  • The novel The Golden Day by Ursula Dubosarsky is set in a fictitious girls' school in Kings Cross and involves the disappearance of one of the teachers while on a school excursion in 1967.
  • The third season of the Australian crime drama series Underbelly is set in Kings Cross. The series is titled Underbelly: The Golden Mile and is a dramatic representation of Kings Cross organised crime. The central figure to the series is an actor portraying the life of John Ibrahim.

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Population

In 2001, the area was recognized as the most densely populated in Australia, with 20,018 people living within a 1.4 km2 (0.54 sq mi) area.


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