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The north centre of the city was originally reclaimed from tidal flats from the 17th Century onwards. In the following centuries, city development moved eastwards downriver, where a formal Georgian city emerged, incorporating key public buildings, residential squares and imposing streetscapes. The Georgian period also witnessed the Wide Streets Commissioners develop the powerful civic and commercial streets in the city centre, including O'Connell Street. While the residential Georgian areas north of the River Liffey were initially successful, the 1801 Act of Union, which spelt economic decline for the city as a whole, was particularly severe in terms of its impact on the north side. The quality residential areas began to decline as the aristocracy repatriated, and the key administration and social life of the city consolidated on the south side of the river, leaving a cityscape of Georgian splendour to decay into tenement ruins.

For over 100 years since the 1880s, suburbanisation resulted in the loss of almost all the middle-income population from the north inner city. Rationalisation and modernisation saw the traditional industrial base disappear. By the early 1990s, despite a focused investment in the Henry Street retail area, the hinterland of O'Connell Street suffered from extensive physical decay and pervasive social and economic problems. It was to tackle the legacy of this troubled history that integrated area plans emerged for O’Connell Street and the North East Inner City. These plans re-imagined a new vision for the area that has inspired the current redevelopment. A social, economic and architectural rebirth of the area is now well under way.

Posted by Reflecting City Team on Tuesday, September 16, 2008
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