Traditionally land occupied by the Wangal Aboriginal people, now known as Ashfield, was one of the earliest settled areas of Greater Sydney. Several farms were set up in the area by 1794. With the Parramatta Track and Liverpool Road passing through the town by 1813, the town's coach-staging inns accounted for significant growth in the population as blacksmiths and saddlers settled in the area.
Always more of a residential area than an industrial area, Ashfield was home to a number of famous residents including Sir Henry Parkes, who lived in his magnificent Milton House during the 1870s, and CSIRO founder Ian Clunies Ross in the early 1900s. Following the post-Depression era housing crisis, Ashfield had many of its oldest Victorian houses and buildings demolished to give way to split level deco apartment blocks and again in the 1980s, several historic institutional buildings such as the Town Hall and Theatre were knocked down to make way for housing development and Ashfield Mall. The oldest surviving building St John's Church which dates back to 1841, and is located in one of Sydney's oldest cemeteries on Alt Street, holds the graves for several prominent early Ashfield settlers including Elizabeth Underwood who owned much of the land which is now called Ashfield.
Ashfield differed significantly from other Sydney suburbs early on due to its distinctly multicultural community, and from the 1890s harboured a significant migrant population including one of Sydney's most recognised characters, Chinese Tea merchant Mei Quong Tart and his family who lived in the Gallop House Mansion on Arthur Street. The migrant population continued to grow with the post World War II migration leading to a large Polish and German population settling in Ashfield. With 60% of its residents born overseas, today Ashfield is one of the most ethnically diverse Sydney suburbs with significant Chinese and Indian communities.
The Ashfield Bowling Green