Petrie Terrace is a suburb that adjoins the north-western end of Brisbane's central business district. Between 1975-2010 it was deemed to be a locality and included with central Brisbane, before being again officially recorded as a suburb from June 2010. Petrie Terrace's boundaries are the Roma Street to Exhibition railway line, Musgrave Road, Hale Street and the Milton to Roma Street railway line.
It was named after the thoroughfare, Petrie Terrace, which runs from Upper Roma Street to the Five Ways at Musgrave Road. Andrew Petrie was a pioneer of Brisbane and his son, John, was the first mayor of the town of Brisbane in 1859.
Petrie Terrace was a remote locality when a cemetery was reserved on the western side of Hale Street in 1843, and still relatively remote in 1860 when the area known as Green Hills was reserved for a new jail. (The two reservations are now Lang Park/Suncorp Stadium and the Victoria Army Barracks.) The growth of Brisbane's population, however, made the slopes between the town boundary (Hale Street) and Petrie Terrace attractive for subdivision for housing in 1861. Brisbane was still a 'walking' town without horse buses and trams, and the subdivisions were as small as seven perches to fit in as many workers' cottages as possible. Petrie Terrace became one of the few parts of Brisbane with housing congestion resembling that of Collingwood and Redfern in the southern capitals. It was also Brisbane's sixth suburb, coming after North Brisbane, South Brisbane, Kangaroo Point, Fortitude Valley and Spring Hill. Among the earliest surviving examples of Petrie Terrace's housing is Princess Row (1863), four dwellings (one later disguised by a shop front) where Princess Street joins Petrie Terrace.
The subdivisional layout also included narrow streets and lanes with house frontages, two examples being Jessie Street (eight dwellings) and Pratten Street (19 dwellings). Settlement occurred within just a few years, and when the Petrie Terrace school at the corner of Milton Road and Hale Street opened in 1868 it had an enrolment of 300. The army barracks and a hotel, the Cricketers Arms, opened in 1864, and a post office was opened in 1878. Subdivisional activity, however, was halted by local protests which succeeded in having the land between Petrie Terrace and Countess Street kept aside as Hardgrave Park in 1875.
By the 1880s Petrie Terrace was intensively inhabited. The Hale Street school had 630 pupils, and overcrowding was relieved by transferring the girls to a new school in Moreton Street, Red Hill. Health conditions improved with the completion of a drainage scheme, connected to a main drain in Milton, in 1883-84. Nevertheless, Petrie Terrace was one of the suburbs Parliament had in mind when it passed a law in 1885 to make the minimum house lot 16 perches, and requiring residential roadways to be 20 metres wide and lanes seven metres wide. With lanes, houses had to be set back seven metres from the front boundary: Petrie Terrace's urban form was deemed unwelcome. Crowding workers into inner suburbs became less important when electric tram services were pushed out along Countess Street, Petrie Terrace and Caxton Street in 1897.
The trams were destined for the newer suburbs of Red Hill and Paddington, for Petrie Terrace was a mature suburb with the Prince Alfred Hotel (1887-88) at the corner of Petrie Terrace and Caxton Street, an Oddfellows hall (1883-84) at the corner of Caxton and Cathie Streets, and shops in Petrie Terrace and Musgrave Road. The latter also had the Normanby Hotel, a heritage-registered building erected in 1891. A Baptist church (1895) appears to have been the sole religious building, as other congregations worshipped in Red Hill, Paddington and Milton.
The trams, shops and the Oddfellows hall have gone or changed beyond recognition. After being used as Baroona Labour hall (1949), the Oddfellows building became a night club. Gone too was any hint of remoteness: by the 1960s Hale Street had to be grade-separated at Caxton Street to ease traffic congestion, and by the 1980s Hale Street was needed as a link in the inner north-west ring road. Petrie Terrace's residents felt under siege, and protests succeeded in saving some properties from the wrecker's ball. La Boite Theatre (1967) hung on to its Hale Street corner site, although it later moved to Kelvin Grove.
The Petrie Terrace school is now the Albert Park Flexi School, and was known as the Baroona Special School (1974). Both it and the Baroona Labour hall are listed on the Queensland heritage register.
Petrie Terrace, enclosed on three sides by a ring road and railway lines, retains in its hills and hollows unusual examples of colonial housing, some on pre-1885 subdivisions and others more fortunately situated on blocks with space for a garden.
Steve Woolcock and Rod Fisher, Petrie Terrace Brisbane 1858-1988: 'its ups and downs', Brisbane, Boolarong, 1988