The Sydney central business district (CBD) is the historical and main commercial centre of Sydney. The CBD is Sydney's city centre, or Sydney City, and the two terms are used interchangeably. Colloquially, the CBD or city centre is often referred to simply as "Town" or "the City". The Sydney city centre extends southwards for about 3km (2mi) from Sydney Cove, the point of first European settlement in which the Sydney region was initially established. Due to its pivotal role in Australia's early history, it is one of the oldest established areas in the country.
The Sydney City is Australia's main financial and economic centre, as well as a leading hub of economic activity for the Asia Pacific region. The city centre and areas immediately around it employ approximately 22% of the Sydney region's workforce. The City has the largest gathering of workers in the whole of Sydney. Most of them are white collar office workers in the finance and professional service industries. In 2012, the number of workers operating in the City was 226,972. Based on industry mix and relative occupational wage levels it is estimated that economic activity (GDP) generated in the city in 2015/16 was approximately $118 billion. Culturally, the city centre is Sydney's focal point for nightlife and entertainment. It is also home to some of the city's most significant buildings and structures.
The Sydney CBD is an area of very densely concentrated skyscrapers and other buildings, interspersed by several parks such as Hyde Park, The Domain, Royal Botanic Gardens and Wynyard Park. George Street is the Sydney CBD's main north–south thoroughfare. The streets run on a slightly warped grid pattern in the southern CBD, but in the older northern CBD the streets form several intersecting grids, reflecting their placement in relation to the prevailing breeze and orientation to Circular Quay in early settlement.
The New South Wales Geographical Names Board defines the area covering the central business district as the suburb named "Sydney". The formal boundaries of the suburb "Sydney" covers most of the peninsula formed by Cockle Bay in the west and Woolloomooloo Bay in the east. It extends north to Circular Quay, Bennelong Point and Mrs Macquarie's Chair, east to Woolloomooloo Bay and the eastern boundary of the Domain and Hyde Park, south to Goulburn Street just north of Sydney's Chinatown (Haymarket), and west to cover the Darling Harbour area on the western shore of Cockle Bay. However, it does not include the northwestern portion of the peninsula which includes the Barangaroo, the Rocks, Miller's Point, Dawe's Point and Walsh Bay area, which are formally separate suburbs grouped by the City of Sydney into the "small area" called "The Rocks - Miller's Point - Dawe's Point". Although not part of the CBD, Chinatown, Haymarket, the Rocks, Miller's Point and Dawe's Point are often regarded as part of the city centre.
The postcode zone 2000 is also roughly correlative with the city centre.
The City of Sydney is traditionally the governing authority for Sydney's city centre. However, the boundaries of the City of Sydney have always been larger than the city centre or CBD. For example, Pyrmont has been in the City of Sydney since 1842 but is usually considered to be an inner western suburb, not a part of the Sydney city centre or CBD. Today's City of Sydney is far larger than the city centre or CBD.
Sydney's history begins in prehistoric times with the occupation of the district by Australian Aboriginals, whose ancestors came to Sydney in the Upper Paleolithic period.Radiocarbon dating suggests that they lived in and around Sydney for at least 30,000 years. Sydney Cove from Port Jackson to Petersham was inhabited by the Cadigal clan. The principal language groups were Darug, Guringai, and Dharawal. The modern history of the city began with the arrival of a First Fleet of British ships in 1788 and the foundation of a penal colony by Great Britain. The area surrounding Port Jackson (Sydney Harbour) was home to several Aboriginal tribes. The "Eora people" are the coastal Aboriginal people of the Sydney district. The name Eora simply means "here" or "from this place", and was used by Local Aboriginal people to describe to the British where they came from.
After arriving to Botany Bay, Captain Arthur Phillip decided that the area was not suitable since it had poor soil, no secure anchorage and no reliable water source. Thus, the fleet moved to the more suitable Port Jackson where a settlement was established at Sydney Cove on 26 January 1788. This date later became Australia's national day, Australia Day. The colony was formally proclaimed by Governor Phillip on 7 February 1788 at Sydney. Sydney Cove offered a fresh water supply and Port Jackson a safe harbour, which Phillip described as: "being without exception the finest Harbour in the World". With the expansion of European settlement large amounts of land was cleared for farming, which resulted in the destruction of Aboriginal food sources. This, combined with the introduction of new diseases such as smallpox, caused resentment within the Aboriginal clans against the British and resulted in violent confrontations.
In the midst of World War I, on Valentine's Day, riots racked the CBD, in what has come to be known as the Central Station Riots of 1916. A substantial segment of the violence was concentrated in the Central area. These riots involved five thousand military recruits who refused to comply with extraneous parade orders. During the riots, they caused significant damage to buildings. People with "foreign" names were especially targeted. The recruits clashed with soldiers, resulting in the death of Private Ernest William Keefe. Eight people sustained injuries. Because this incident occurred in the middle of the Great War the state discouraged media coverage. Only a fifth of the rioters were court-marshalled. These riots spurred the introduction of lockout laws for pubs after 6 pm. This law was only lifted in 1955.
Buses service the CBD along several dozen routes to both inner and more remote suburbs. NightRide is an after-hours bus service that operates between midnight and 5:00 am, with most services running from George Street outside the Sydney Town Hall.
Sydney Ferries operate largely from Circular Quay, on the northern edge of the CBD. There are several wharves (directly beneath the elevated Circular Quay commuter rail station), with Wharf 3 operating exclusively to Manly. There are also ferries services from the western edge of the CBD at Barangaroo.
Every January during the summer, the city celebrates with the Sydney Festival. There are art, music and dance exhibitions at indoor and outdoor venues. Australian and International theatre during the month is also featured, including Aboriginal, and Contemporary. Many of these events are free.
The Sydney Film Festival is an international event organised every year in June at various venues across the CBD. The festival opened on 11 June 1954 and was held over four days, with screenings at Sydney University. Attendance was at full capacity with 1,200 tickets sold at one guinea each.
Sydney boasts a lively café culture, as well as a club and bar scene distributed throughout the CBD and concentrated in a couple of locations such as Darling Harbour. Although Kings Cross is not technically located within the Sydney CBD, it is accessible via William Street, which runs through Hyde Park and is part of the inner-city region. Oxford Street hosts Sydney's gay scene.
The Sydney CBD contains many of Australia's tallest skyscrapers, including Governor Phillip Tower, MLC Centre and World Tower, the latter consisting predominantly of apartments. It is also home to the Australia Square tower building on George Street, which was the city's tallest building until 1976. As of 2017, the tallest structure is Centrepoint Tower at 309m (1,014ft) which has dominated the city skyline since it was topped out in 1981. In 2016, height limits for buildings were lifted from 235m (771ft) to 310m (1,017ft).
Sydney's CBD features a juxtaposition of old and new architecture. The old architecture dates back to Sydney's earliest days as a colony, down to the more grandiose Victorian architecture from the Gold rush era–the most substantial examples are the Queen Victoria Building and the Sydney Town Hall. Modern architectures take form as high-rises and skyscrapers, which are prolific among all of Sydney's city streets. The earliest skyscraper constructed in Sydney was Culwulla Chambers, which stands at a height of 50m (164ft) and was completed in 1912. Designed by Spain, Cosh and Minnett, the building consisted of 14 floors and cost £100,000 to build.
Heritage conservation has been an ongoing issue for Sydney's city centre since the introduction of green bans in the 1970s and the increasing need for office or living space. Since then, a number of prominent buildings in the CBD have been lost: Anthony Hordern & Sons on George Street, the Regent Theatre also on George Street, Commercial Travelers' Club and Hotel Australia at Martin Place all attracted the ire of Sydneysiders–Sydney Mayor Clover Moore, then the MP for Bligh, even addressed a crowd in Martin Place in 1988 in a futile attempt to save the Regent Theatre from its imminent fate.
The Sydney central business district has many heritage-listed buildings including:
At the 2021 census, the population of the Sydney CBD was recorded as 16,667.
In the 2016 census, there were 17,252 people residing in Sydney CBD. The median age was 30 years. Children aged 0 – 14 years made up 4.5% of the population and people aged 65 years and over made up 5.7% of the population. 17.0% of the people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were Thailand (13.3%), China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) (11.7%), Indonesia (10.7%), South Korea (5.4%) and India (3.5%). Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander people made up 0.2% of the population. 25.3% of people only spoke English at home. Other languages spoken at home included Mandarin (14.6%), Thai (13.0%), Indonesian (9.1%), Korean (5.0%) and Cantonese (4.2%). The most common ancestries in the CBD were Chinese (24.6%), Thai (11.3%), English (9.3%), Indonesian (5.1%) and Korean (4.9%). The most common responses for religion in Sydney CBD were No Religion (31.7%), Buddhism (21.7%), Not stated (15.8%), Catholic (12.6%) and Anglican (3.3%). 18.2% were couple families with children, 65.6% were couple families without children and 8.5% were one parent families. 33.4% were married. 0.2% were separate houses, 0.0% were semi-detached, row or terrace houses, townhouses etc., 98.9% were flat or apartments and 0.6% were other dwellings. 15.7% of the homes were owned outright, 13.4% were owned with a mortgage and 65.7% were rented. 49.3% were family households, 31.8% were single person households and 18.9% were group households.
Parramatta is a suburb and major commercial centre in Greater Western Sydney, located in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located approximately 24 kilometres (15 mi) west of the Sydney central business district on the banks of the Parramatta River. Parramatta is the administrative seat of the local government area of the City of Parramatta and is often regarded as the main business district of Greater Western Sydney. Parramatta also has a long history as a second administrative centre in the Sydney metropolitan region, playing host to a number of state government departments as well as state and federal courts. It is often colloquially referred to as "Parra".
Richmond is a town in New South Wales, in the local government area of the City of Hawkesbury. It is located 19 metres above sea level on the alluvial Hawkesbury River flats, at the foot of the Blue Mountains on the Cumberland Plain. It is about 65 km by road from Sydney and about 78 km by road from Lithgow.
The Rocks is a suburb, tourist precinct and historic area of Sydney's city centre, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is located on the southern shore of Sydney Harbour, immediately north-west of the Sydney central business district.
Surry Hills is an inner-city suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Surry Hills is immediately south-east of the Sydney central business district in the local government area of the City of Sydney. Surry Hills is surrounded by the suburbs of Darlinghurst to the north, Chippendale and Haymarket to the west, Moore Park and Paddington to the east and Redfern to the south. It is often colloquially referred to as "Surry".
Randwick is a suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Randwick is located 6 kilometres south-east of the Sydney central business district and is the administrative centre for the local government area of the City of Randwick. Randwick is part of the Eastern Suburbs region. The postcode is 2031.
Windsor is a historic town north-west of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It is the council seat of the Hawkesbury local government area. The town sits on the Hawkesbury River, enveloped by farmland and Australian bush. Many of the oldest surviving European buildings in Australia are located at Windsor. It is 46 kilometres (29 mi) north-west of metropolitan Sydney, on the fringes of urban sprawl.
Pitt Street is a major street in the Sydney central business district in New South Wales, Australia. The street runs through the entire city centre from Circular Quay in the north to Waterloo, although today's street is in two disjointed sections after a substantial stretch of it was removed to make way for Sydney's Central railway station. Pitt Street is well known for the pedestrian only retail centre of Pitt Street Mall, a section of the street which runs from King Street to Market Street.
Lilyfield is a suburb in the Inner West of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Lilyfield is located 6 kilometres west of the Sydney central business district, in the local government area of the Inner West Council.
The City of Blue Mountains is a local government area of New South Wales, Australia, governed by the Blue Mountains City Council. The city is located in the Blue Mountains, it’s located on the Great Dividing Range on the western edge of the Greater Sydney Region in New South Wales, Australia.
Berrima is a historic village in the Southern Highlands of New South Wales, Australia, in Wingecarribee Shire. The village, once a major town, is located on the Old Hume Highway between Sydney and Canberra. It was previously known officially as the Town of Berrima. It is close to the three major towns of the Southern Highlands: Mittagong, Bowral and Moss Vale.
The City of Campbelltown is a local government area in the Macarthur region of south-western Sydney, in New South Wales, Australia. The area is located about 55 kilometres (34 mi) south west of the Sydney central business district and comprises 312 square kilometres (120 sq mi).
Wilberforce is a small town in New South Wales, Australia, in the local government area of the City of Hawkesbury. It is just beyond the outer suburbs of north-west Sydney and lies on the western bank of the Hawkesbury River.
North Sydney Council is a local government area on the Lower North Shore of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, established on 29 July 1890 through the amalgamation of three boroughs.
The City of Randwick is a local government area in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Established in 1859, Randwick is the second-oldest local government area in New South Wales, after the City of Sydney. It comprises an area of 36 square kilometres (14 sq mi) and as at the 2016 census had a population of 140,660.
Woollahra Municipal Council is a local government area in the eastern suburbs of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. Woollahra is bounded by Sydney Harbour in the north, Waverley Council in the east, Randwick City in the south and the City of Sydney in the west.
Millers Point is an inner-city suburb of Sydney, in the state of New South Wales, Australia. It is on the north-western edge of the Sydney central business district, adjacent to The Rocks and is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney.
Bridge Street is a street in the central business district of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. Bridge Street runs for 500 metres (1,600 ft) in a west–east direction with traffic flowing in both directions. It is situated in the northern portion of the central business district. The western terminus of Bridge Street is at George Street, with the eastern terminus at Macquarie Street, adjacent to the Chief Secretary's Building. From west to east, Bridge Street crosses Pitt and Phillip streets.
Sussex Street is a street in the central business district of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia. It runs north-south along the western side of the city, between Hickson Road and Hay Street. It is in the local government area of the City of Sydney. The street is 1.7 kilometres (1.1 mi) long. It was named in honour of Prince Augustus Frederick, Duke of Sussex, the sixth son of King George III.
York Street is a street in the Sydney central business district in New South Wales, Australia. York Street runs 1.050 kilometres (0.652 mi) in a north to south direction only and is used predominantly by buses from the northern districts of Sydney.
The Dubbo Regional Council is a local government area located in the Central West and Orana regions of New South Wales, Australia. The council was formed on 12 May 2016 through a merger of the City of Dubbo and Wellington Council as part of a widespread council amalgamation program. It was initially named Western Plains Regional Council for almost four months, and its name was changed to Dubbo Regional Council on 7 September 2016.