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Redfern is an inner-city suburb of Sydney located 3 kilometres south of the Sydney central business district and is part of the local government area of the City of Sydney. Strawberry Hills is a locality on the border with Surry Hills. The area experienced the process of gentrification and is subject to extensive redevelopment plans by the state government, to increase the population and reduce the concentration of poverty in the suburb and neighbouring Waterloo.
The suburb is named after surgeon William Redfern, who was granted 100 acres (0.40 km2) of land in this area in 1817 by Lachlan Macquarie. He built a country house on his property surrounded by flower and kitchen gardens. His neighbours were Captain Cleveland, an officer of the 73rd regiment, who built Cleveland House and John Baptist, who ran a nursery and seed business. Sydney’s original railway terminus was built in Cleveland Paddocks and extended from Cleveland Street to Devonshire Street and west to Chippendale. The station’s name was chosen to honour William Redfern. At that time, the present Redfern station was known as Eveleigh. When Central station was built further north on the site of the Devonshire Street cemetery, Eveleigh station became Redfern and Eveleigh was retained for the name of the railway workshops, south of the station. The remains of Cleveland Paddocks became Prince Alfred Park.
In August 1859, Redfern was incorporated as a borough. The Municipality of Redfern merged with the City of Sydney from 1 January 1949.
On 17 January 1908 at Redfern Town Hall the South Sydney Rugby League Football Club was formed to compete in the first season of the New South Wales Rugby Football League Premiership.
In the 1960s and 70s, Liquidambar styraciflua trees were planted in Baptist Street in attempts to green and improve the physical environment. The notorious Redfern Mail Exchange was built in 1965, after 300 people were evicted from their homes on the 2.15 hectare site. It became the scene of many industrial disputes when the automatic mail-sorting machinery, which was supposed to sort mail more efficiently, destroyed many letters and became known as the Redfern Mangler.
In the late 1960s and 1970s, a black power movement, centred around Aboriginal Australian migrants to the city, formed and resulted in the creation of health clinics, food drives, housing co-operatives and a legal aid centre. A green ban helped save the Redfern Aboriginal Centre in the 1970s and activists from Redfern created the Aboriginal Tent Embassy in Canberra.
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