These Bowden street scenes are a part of Adelaide's working class and urban history. Bowden--- and Brompton--- were once counted among the least desirable suburbs in Adelaide. The expansion of the very industrial and commercial premises which had sustained the working class community in the nineteenth century caused a decline in the close-knit working class community and by the 1930s Bowden and Brompton was classified as one of Adelaide’s slums.
The Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study, released in 1968, meant that the Highways Department proceeded to buy properties. Many houses owned by the Highways Department showed that their standard fell much below the general standard of housing in the area. Even though he North-South Transportation Corridor proposal was finally abandoned in 1983 The suburbs became progressively more run down during the 1990s, the small scale housing degenerated, and as a consequence of its closeness to Adelaide and manufacturing districts, the suburbs become a centre for storage, commercial or wholesale purposes.
The closure of the gasworks that dominated Brompton in 2000 and Clipsal Industries' relocation from Bowden in 2009 provided an opportunity for re-development of these suburbs. Many of the buildings in Bowden have been pulled down as part of the process of urban renewal. The factories, working class cottages and warehouses have been replaced by parks and houses by what is known as Bowden Village.
These street scenes, and the people who lived there, are part of Adelaide's history that is forgotten. Few will remember them. Few lived here. Little will be protected as heritage, for Bowden signified, for respectable Adelaide, the negative of civilised urban living. It was seen as dystopia: a polluted, industrial place full of dead beats, bums and alcoholics.
The gasworks dominated the urbanscape with its high chimneys and enormous footprint. Bowden was seen to be a place for respectable middle class people to avoid at all cost. In the imaginary of the respectable law and order crowd Bowden-Brompton was populated by thugs and criminals. Consequently, there was little effort made to preserve the district’s surviving built heritage.
Slowly, though Bowden started to be redeveloped. The first sign of this was the new compact, low income housing built in Seventh Street. Industry had to leave if Bowden was to become a place of people rather than people again.