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Like many of Sydney's suburbs, the area now known as Leichhardt started its life as several large properties which had come from land grants to significant settlers and ex-army personnel. Named after the explorer Ludwig Leichhardt by his friend and local property owner Walter Beames, the dairy farms which had initially dotted the suburb gave way to residential development as Sydney's city experienced significant population growth in the 1870s.
The post World War II migration of displaced citizens from greater Europe would have a great impact on the social makeup of Leichhardt which is now considered Sydney's 'Little Italy'. Based on the 'chain' migration patterns of the predominantly male Italian population in Sydney, whereby extended families and brides would come to Australia to settle in areas with an established Italian community, suburbs such as Leichhardt would soon have distinctive and flourishing Italian communities.
Today although still a seemingly 'Italian' suburb due to the proliferation of small Italian owned businesses, such as grocery stores, chemists, shoe makers and the opening of the Italian Forum in the 1990s, Leichhardt is no longer the vestige of a large migrant population, with the majority of its residents born in Australia and English the predominant language. With federation architecture coming back into vogue in the 1990s, Leichhardt became a very popular Sydney suburb given its significant numbers of federation houses and buildings and remains one of the most sought after residential postcodes in inner Sydney.