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Tucked in around the corner from the harbourside suburb of Pyrmont, Glebe was originally the site of 400 acres of land granted to the Church of England in 1790 by Governor Phillip. It was given to the First Fleet chaplain Reverend Richard Johnson to establish a spiritual heart for the Church in Sydney. Known as St Phillips Glebe, the naming of the suburb was derived from the Latin word 'glaeba' meaning 'clod of earth' and was specific to its use as church land.
Financial difficulties led to the church selling significant portions of this land in 1824, keeping 19 harbour fronted hectares for themselves on which their most important church buildings would be built. Its harbour frontage was popular with the wealthy settlers who commissioned grand residences to be built for them in the suburb, many of which, such as the dramatic Lyndhurst on Darghan Street, still exist today. However it quickly became attractive to Sydney's working class when the remaining church land was subdivided and turned into sets of comfortable brick houses in close distance to the Blackwattle Bay slaughterhouses and manufacturing industries.
Following the Great Depression and World War II, the suburb's profile became distinctly working class and the deterioration of its houses had the suburb become the site of a significant government-funded restoration effort in 1972, called the Glebe Project. Church land was bought by the government signalling the start of Public Housing Estates in Glebe.
Today, Glebe is a thriving urban community known for its village atmosphere and alternative cafe culture which dates back to the late 1970s when Glebe was the epicentre of counter-culture in Sydney.