Potts Point is named after Joseph Hyde Potts, Australia’s first bank teller of Australia’s first bank, Westpac. He designed Australia’s first bank note and lived as bank manager and teller in the original bank premises in George Street. One of the bank’s Directors, Judge Wylde, after whom Wylde Street is now named, received a land grant from Governor Darling in 1822 at the northern tip of Potts Point. Most of the eastern side of Macleay Street is part of the original 1826, 54-acre Elizabeth Bay House estate and its world-famous gardens, given to NSW Colonial Secretary Alexander Macleay. Eventually, all of it would be sub-divided.
By 1831 seventeen land grants had been made on Woolloomooloo Heights, as the area was known, to a selection of the most politically and economically powerful men in the colony including judges, politicians and merchants. Their purpose was to establish a stylish area of housing distinct from The Rocks or Woolloomooloo. Legal caveats were attached to grants: all residences were to be built within three years, cost over £1,000, have ample setbacks and face Government House. Envious locals described the area as “hob-nobs ville”.
Mr Potts was also a developer, building houses in Wylde Street in the 1830s. His name then became synonymous with the area, although never living there himself.
Potts’s Point – its originally spelling – then became Australia’s first deliberately-designed suburb: an enclave for only those who could afford to live in the dress circle overlooking Sydney and its sapphire-blue harbour. Views extended to the heads in the east, to the north and over the city towards mountains in the west. Equally importantly were fresh air and sea breezes, much sought after for health reasons. A number of those magnificent marine mansions still exist such as Rockwall, Jenner, Bomerah, Tarana, Tusculum and Elizabeth Bay House.
In 1911 Kingsclere became Australia’s walk-up grand apartment block with each apartment having its own butler, heralding a new age of inner-city living for locals and visiting country land owners. And by the 1930s Potts Point was known as “flatsville” reflecting the latest living trend and Parisienne-chic; Art Déco-style apartments. Today, this collection, shared with neighbouring Elizabeth Bay, is heritage-listed. After WWII, large hotels such as the Chevron, now the Ikon apartments, dominated a continually-crowded skyline. A later urban density push in the 1980s and 90s created “sky houses” such as Pomeroy, designed for retirees wanting both large spaces and views.
London Plane trees and White Magnolia tree-lined heritage streetscapes together with over 120 individual heritage buildings still represent the highest form of fashionable urban living close to both the City and other nearby areas such as Rushcutters Bay Park, Woolloomooloo’s Finger Wharf complex and Paddington.
At every stage of its history, Potts Point’s has been at the forefront of the latest living trends. With the highest urban residential density in Australia this cosmopolitan residential mix enjoys a New York life-style of intimate cafes, boutique charcuteries, award-winning delicatessens and design shops, all within a compact area.