Kings Cross

Kings Cross

"The Golden Mile"

Piccolo Bar Cafe. Potts Point, Sydney, Australia


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. The area is encompassed within the suburbs of Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay, which have both been administered by the City of Sydney since March, 2004.

The area is infamous in Australia as being a "red-light" district, with numerous strip clubs and "girlie" bars along Darlinghurst Road, although many now accuse the City Council of seeking to gentrify the area, and recent years have seen changing demographics. It is also known for its Neon signs and advertising posters, the most famous being the iconic Coca-Cola sign. It is often referred to by Sydneysiders by the affectionate colloquialism "the Cross".

The locality is also the most densely populated place in Australia with a population of around 20,000 people in a 1.4 square kilometre area. Kings Cross consists chiefly of a retail and entertainment precinct extending approximately 100 metres along both sides of Darlinghurst Road.

Early settlement
During the early 19th century the Kings Cross-Potts Point area was one of Sydney's most prestigious suburbs, 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 the early 1800s the Governor of NSW granted several large estates to favoured subordinates and leading businessmen. They built a series of grandiose mansions with sprawling gardens of up to ten acres (40,000 m²). The remnants of these gardens helped give the area of its leafy character, and many of the mansions are commemorated in street names, such as Kellett Street.

Most of the grand estates were ultimately subdivided with all but a handful of the great houses demolished. One of the surviving estates is Elizabeth Bay House, a quintessential example of Australian colonial architecture.

Bohemian district

Known as Queen's Cross until the early 20th century, it was renamed King's Cross after Edward VII of the United Kingdom. The "cross" is a reference to the major intersection formed by William Street and Darlinghurst Road, which forms the locality's southernmost limit.

The Kings Cross district was Sydney's bohemian heartland from the early decades of the 20th Century. From the 1960s onwards it also came to serve as both the city's main tourist accommodation and entertainment mecca, as well as its red light district. It thereby achieved a high level of notoriety out of all proportion to its limited geographical extent.

The area boomed during the late 1960s, with hundreds of American servicemen on R & R leave flocking 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". This inevitably led to a rise in crime, vice and corruption, and a massive increase in the influx and use of heroin, much of which was initially brought in by American servicemen in the pay of drug rings.

During the late 1970s and 80s, drug-related crime was one of the area's main social problems, leading to the controversial establishment of Australia's first legal drug injecting room (where users of illegal drugs can inject themselves in clean conditions without harassment) at a shopfront site near Kings Cross railway station in May, 2001. As an example of harm reduction; the injecting room is credited with saving the lives of some injecting drug users who have overdosed at the facility since its inception.

Since the turn of the century Kings Cross has witnessed a large number of real estate developments—both refurbishments of historic apartment buildings, and the construction of new ones. This has resulted in demographic changes as affluent professionals are increasingly residing in the area and are in turn significantly altering the character of the area.

The local business action group is the Kings Cross Partnership and the major annual event each autumn is the Kings Cross Food and Wine Festival. (Credit: Wikipedia).


News Updates

Kings X Online


Core activities at Kings Cross, by Michael West - 1st December 2004


Abe Saffron

Big Tim Bristow

Adult Directory



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