The Sydney Central Business District (CBD) is the historical centre and the main commercial centre of Sydney, located on iconic Sydney Harbour. The Sydney CBD is Sydney's city centre, or Sydney City, and the two terms are used interchangeably. The CBD or city centre is often referred to simply as "Town" or "the City". The Sydney city centre extends southwards for about 3 km (2 mi) 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.
A map showing Sydney's city centre and adjacent areas.
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.
A tram passes through a crowd of people during lunch hour, Pitt Street, 1937.
In the midst of World War 1, 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.
In the New South Wales state parliament, the seat of "Sydney" covers the city centre together with inner western, southern and eastern suburbs. IndependentAlex Greenwich has represented the state seat of Sydney since the 2012 by-election, triggered by the resignation of previous independent Clover Moore, who was the Lord Mayor of Sydney, due to introduced state laws preventing dual membership of state parliament and local council.
Sydney's main commuter rail hub is Central Railway Station ("Central"), which is located to the south of the CBD in Haymarket: it connects services for almost all of the lines in the Sydney Trains network, as well as being the terminus for NSW TrainLink country and inter-urban rail services. From Central, there is a largely-underground CBD rail loop, accessed in both directions via Central, which services five CBD stations (Town Hall, Wynyard, Circular Quay, St James and Museum). This is known as the City Circle. In addition, a separate underground line to Bondi Junction services an additional underground station, Martin Place.
Buses, both government-run and privately owned, 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 Australia's earliest skyscraper, the Australia Square building on George Street. As of 2017, the tallest structure is Centrepoint Tower at 309 m (1,014 ft) which has dominated the city skyline since it was topped out in 1981. In 2016, height limits for buildings were lifted from 235 m (771 ft) to 310 m (1,017 ft).
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 50 m (164 ft) and was completed in 1912. Designed by Spain, Cosh and Minnett, the building consisted of 14 floors and cost £100,000 to build, equivalent of approximately $1 million in today's money.
The Sydney central business district has many heritage-listed buildings including:
Intersection of George Street and Park Street near Town Hall
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.
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.