Stretching from the iconic modernist El Alamein fountain on the corner of Darlinghurst Road, north to Wylde Street, Macleay Street is the main artery of Potts Point.
Unlike many main streets though, people live, work, and go out on Macleay Street and never want to leave it – I’m one of them. Without Macleay Street, Potts Point just wouldn’t be the same.
A short history
Macleay Street is named after Alexander Macleay, who was the colonial secretary of NSW from 1826-1837. He received a land grant that took up most of what is now Potts Point and Elizabeth Bay and lived in Elizabeth Bay House.
As Sydney grew his original estate was subdivided, and by the mid 1870s there were two and three story mansions and villas along Macleay Street. In the 1930s a wave of art deco development began, and things really took off. The modernist era from the 1950s and 1960s saw another small flurry of building, and a stronger bohemian artistic vibe. Then things took off again in the 1990s with more designer apartments as the area slowly became more gentrified and upmarket.
Out and about
Macleay Street isn’t short on places to eat and drink. In fact, Vogue named it as Australia’s greatest dining strip. From Billy Kwong to the Apollo, Cho Cho San, Macleay Street Bistro, Monopole, or Bistro Rex, to Maggies and Fratelli Fresh. You’d be hard pressed not to have a good time on Macleay Street.
Delis and cafes also make it a magnet for foodies. And the Kings Cross organic food markets is open Saturdays at heritage listed Fitzroy Gardens at the Kings Cross end of Macleay Street – the breathing space of the local area.
And it’s not just food: Small boutiques, art galleries and bookshops enhance its artistic feel.
Things you may not have noticed
Macleay Street has always had a creative, eclectic buzz, with plenty of entertainment. But it’s never been the night spot that Kings Cross was, due to its strong residential element.
While it’s a very busy area, look up and there’s still plenty of green – deciduous old London Plane trees line Macleay Street.
And despite recent additions, the streetscape along Macleay Street is still strongly reminiscent of the inter-war period. Many feel it’s the closest thing Australia has to the feel of a New York or European city, and what gives it a unique charm.
That’s thanks in no small part to the locals passion for their favourite street. Ex-Prime Minister Paul Keating is just one of many who have fought to keep the unique streetscape intact alongside any new developments.
Most of the buildings along Macleay Street are tall enough to take in city, harbour, or local views. And from mansions to studios to penthouses, there’s a wide range of property.
At the harbour end of the street is one of the last remaining old homes:
- Heritage listed Jenner House at 2 Macleay Street
And Macleay Street is famous for its wonderful blocks of art deco or 1930s apartments (some of them heritage listed) including:
- 4 Macleay Street
- The Macleay Regis, 10-12 Macleay Street
- Selsdon, 16 Macleay Street
- Twenty Macleay Street
- Manar, 40a-42 Macleay Street
- Kingsclere, 48 Macleay Street
- 73 Macleay Street
- Werrington, 85 Macleay Street
- Byron Hall, 97-99 Macleay Street
- Gowrie Gate, 115 Macleay Street
- Cahors, 117 Macleay Street
- Franconia, 123-125 Macleay Street
The modernist era is well represented too:
- The Sheraton Motor Hotel where the Beatles stayed in the 1960s at 40 Macleay Street
- The old Yellow House Artists Collective at 57 Macleay Street
And there’s a nice mix of contemporary designer apartments including:
- Pomeroy, 14 Macleay Street
- Villard, 18 Macleay Street
- Dorchester, 38 Macleay Street
- The Rex, 50-58 Macleay Street
- Ikon, 81 Macleay Street
Why the locals love it
Housing a great mix of culture, lifestyle, homes and amazing architecture, Macleay Street retains a bohemian, artistic vibe. It is urban, steeped in history, stylish and cosmopolitan, but still a little bit quirky.
One of my favourite buildings is Ikon. I used to live there and have sold over 65% of apartments in the building over the years. Its location is second to none – right in the middle of Macleay Street, the heart of Sydney’s Soho. It’s incredibly well run, has great facilities and one of the best concierges in the area, not to mention fantastic views out both sides of the building.
‘Ikon’ 909/81 Macleay Street
‘The Rex’ 101/50 Macleay Street
‘Ikon’ 1201/81 Macleay Street
‘Byron Hall’ 33/97-99 Macleay Street
‘Villard’ 6/18 Macleay Street
‘Ikon’ 906/81 Macleay Street
‘Ikon’ 1103/81 Macleay Street
‘Pomeroy’ 702/14 Macleay Street