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The southern suburbs of the city of Dunedin between 1893 and 1940 consisted of 251 streets. Between the southern suburbs and the more northerly parts of the city is a spur forming a natural geographic boundary. Public land use saw the border area form a social boundary of parkland, cemetery space, and sports fields.

The study area contained a resident population of up to approximately 19, 000 people aged 21 or over. The area was in many respects a microcosm of wider New Zealand society and the largest industrial area of the day. It included not only some of the country's oldest industrial suburbs, New Zealand's most densely settled suburbs, but seaside garden suburbs and salubrious hill suburbs. Temporally, the study period begins in the 1880s. The electoral roll begins in 1893 because women could register to vote for the first time.The study period concludes in 1940, a boundary marked by the Second World War.

The study area's class and demographic structures were broadly the same as in other urban areas of New Zealand, but there were larger concentrations of Catholics, Baptists and Wesleyans. There were also small communities of Chinese, Lebannese and Ngai Tahu.

A section of the study area produced from Land Valuation Map 1922.

Last updated 4th November 2010.