Thanks to the spread of new suburbs along the estuaries of the Georges and Parramatta rivers during the twentieth century, the greater Sydney area encompasses some 600 suburbs between the Pacific Ocean, the Blue Mountains, and the national parks that border it on the north and south, covering a total area of nearly 1,813 square kilometers (700 square miles). This makes it one of the world's largest urban areas, surpassed only by Los Angeles and a few others. Traditionally, well-to-do Australians moved outward to the suburbs, leaving the inner core to immigrant populations from Europe and Asia. Today, however, many are returning to the historic districts first established by their forebears, sparking a wave of urban renovation and gentrification.
Sydney's major urban center is the Central Business District, located on the south bank of the Parramatta River at Port Jackson. In addition to government buildings, office towers, and shops, it is also the site of the city's major tourist attractions, including its opera house and major museums, and the Royal Botanic Gardens. Urban neighborhoods close to this central core include King's Cross, a district of hotels, restaurants, and hostels that has historically had a reputation as the city's "vice capital"; the historic Woolloomooloo district, restored since the 1970s; trendy Darlinghurst, home to numerous sidewalk cafes and Sydney's "Little Italy"; the multicultural, gentrified Surry Hills area; and the residential suburb of Paddington. Further south is the working-class suburb of Redfern, which has a large and sometimes vocal Aboriginal community.
To the east are a series of upscale suburbs including Darling Point, Edgecliff, Double Bay, and Vaucluse, the most exclusive one. The innermost suburbs to the west include the fashionable Balmain district, formerly a working-class and bohemian neighborhood; the traditionally Italian and now diverse neighborhood of Leichhardt; Glebe, located near the University of Sydney; and the hip university district of Newtown. Across the Parramatta River, the Lower North Shore, north of the Harbour Bridge, encompasses a business district and harbor-front suburbs, including Kirribilli, Milson's Point, and McMahons Point.