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Never considered suitable for farming or agricultural cultivation, the land grants given to emancipated convicts, free-settlers and retired army men in the Newtown area were quickly subdivided into smaller residential lots which would be developed into country residences for Sydney's elite. By the 1830s, Newtown had become built up with residential development and was referred to as Sydney's 'Romantic Town'. Noted for its pure, clean air, Newtown's first residents built grand homes which overlooked the city beyond in what was considered one of Sydney's premier inner suburbs.
It's many stores, well-maintained roads and railway station had it compared to a London village, a comparison which no doubt furthered the genteel attractiveness of the fledgling suburb. However, this swift urbanisation had the suburb succumb to over-industrialisation very quickly and with many of the wealthier residents moving to the preferred country estates further west, the population of Newtown was distinctly working class by the 1900s.
Thanks to nearby 'dirty' industry such as the brickworks in neighbouring St Peters, Newtown was polluted and over populated becoming the 4th most populated Sydney suburb by the 1890s. Despite this, its main street - King Street - thrived becoming a noteworthy shopping strip well serviced by its train station and tram lines into the area.
Newtown is also significant for being home to The Jets, Australia's first rugby league club, who were formed in 1908. Whilst their sportsground is still in use today, The Jets are no longer a premiership team. As a thriving metropolis suburb, with a nearby university and strong history in women’s rights including Australia's first female mayor in 1938, Newtown has grown to be a defining suburb for alternative culture in Sydney. It has retained its history of being a shopping destination, has significant arts and culture communities and is considered Sydney's gothic heartland thanks in part to the gothic overtones of the historical St Stephens Church and graveyard.