Gavin Harris has lived in Kings Cross for many decades. In this interview he talks about the history of Sydney’s best known precinct, its architecture, characters, and engagement with the arts of all kinds, as well as its darker underside. In the excerpt below Gavin outlines some of the Cross’s many personality traits.
I think at least from the ’19 – well, no, even from the 1830s it was the first suburb of Sydney, or at least the first – people built on the ridge of the hill – and they were the administrators of the colony, and so it was a posh place then. Then it was subdivided at different times so that it had different sort of building stock coming in; the estates were broken down. First place to have things like skyscrapers or residential apartment blocks. It also was innovative in terms of music culture, art culture, food culture. Migrants came here before the Second World War; they felt at home here. [Also] whatever is the ‘bad’ of society has been here. When it was gambling, illegal gambling was here; sex after that; booze in the ‘20s and ’30s, blackleg booze; and then of course it became heroin or cocaine and whatever the ‘bad’ drug was, ice this week.