Pyrmont was once a vital component of Sydney's industrial waterfront, with wharves, shipbuilding yards, factories and woolstores. As industry moved out, the population and the area declined. In recent years it has experienced redevelopment with an influx of residents and office workers.
Pyrmont contained a mineral spring of cold water bubbling out of a rock and was thus named for a similar natural spring in Bad Pyrmont, close to Hanover, Germany. The area was also the site of the first Presbyterian Church in the colony, built in 1864 and situated in Mount Street. The congregation eventually outgrew the premises and had to move to a new church at Quarry Street, Ultimo.
Before European settlement the Eora tribe of Indigenous Australians inhabited the area. Their Aboriginal name for this area was 'Pirrama', which is still the name of a road on the Pyrmont waterfront.
Thomas Jones was granted 55 acres (22 ha) of land on the peninsula in 1795. Land was sold to Obadiah Ikin in 1796 for 10 pounds, which he then sold to Captain John Macarthur in 1799 for a gallon of rum. Pyrmont quarries provided sandstone for many of Sydney's 19th century buildings.
In 1900 the area had a population of over 30,000. But by 1991 the population had dramatically dropped to around 900. leaving the area to become derelict. In order to combat this problem the government initiated the Better Cities Program to improve the area. This led to a larger community and also an increase of trade with businesses moving back into the area.
Pyrmont became a working class industrial and port community. It was considered to be a slum area in the 19th century. A major sugar refinery was operated by CSR Limited. Almost all industrial function is gone from the area now, replaced by high-rise residential developments. The first Pyrmont Bridge opened in 1858. A larger bridge with a swinging span opened in 1902.
Pyrmont Fire Station in Pyrmont Street was designed by the Government Architect, Walter Liberty Vernon, in 1907. It is an example of the Federation Free Style, predominantly made of brick with sandstone trimmings, and with Art Nouveau elements. It is now on the Register of the National Estate. The public school in John Street was designed by W.E.Kemp and built in 1891; a brick building, it features a bell tower, belfry and slate roof, and is on the Register of the National Estate.
Union Square is a major heritage precinct. It includes the Post Office in Harris Street, the Harlequin Inn pub, two bank buildings in Union Street, the homes from 4-20 Union Street, all buildings from 99-125 Harris Street, the terrace from 135-141 Harris Street and terraces from 1-21 Paternoster Row. All of these buildings are listed on the Register of the National Estate. Also on the Register is the Waite and Bull building at 137 Pyrmont Bridge Road.
The Star City Casino dominates the Darling Harbour waterfront of Pyrmont and the Sydney Fish Market is located on Blackwattle Bay. Jackson's Landing is a residential and commercial property development located on the northern part of the peninsula.
Pyrmont is home to the headquarters of several corporations including Vodafone, Nokia Australia, Fairfax Media, Accenture Australia, Google, the Network Ten studios, the Seven Network production studios and radio stations Nova 96.9, Classic Rock 95.3, 2GB and 2SM.
Pyrmont is linked to the city by the Pyrmont Bridge, used only by pedestrians and by the Sydney Monorail which runs between the city and nearby Darling Harbour. The Anzac Bridge, which replaced the Glebe Island Bridge, is a large cable-stayed bridge spanning Johnstons Bay between Pyrmont and Rozelle.
Pyrmont is also served by State Transit buses, Sydney Ferries and Metro Light Rail. There are four light rail stations in Pyrmont at Pyrmont Bay, Star City, John Street Square and the Sydney Fish Market.