The suburb of East Brisbane is 2.5 km south-east of the city, lying between Woolloongabba and the Norman Creek. It extends to the south side of the Brisbane River where it adjoins Kangaroo Point.
East Brisbane was only sparsely settled until the 1870s, but an early genteel estate was the Reverend Thomas Mowbray's 'Riversdale' on the river's edge at todays Mowbray Park. The construction of a bridge across the mouth of Norman Creek in 1856 for access to the Wynnum district and Bulimba did not bring much settlement toward East Brisbane as there remained considerable unfilled space in South Brisbane and Woolloongabba.
When European settlement began in the 1870s it included Forsyth's rope works in Lytton Road; a rope walk ran parallel to and east of Manilla Street. A post office (Mowbraytown) was opened in 1886 and the first of several hotels, the Shafston, on the corner of Wellington and Lytton Roads, was opened in 1890. The East Brisbane primary school was opened in 1899, situated on the other (west) side of Wellington Road next to the Woolloongabba cricket ground. In 1900, some way east of the school, the Lord Stanley Hotel was opened. By then, Stanley Street continued across the Norman Creek, which it had bridged in 1886.
In 1903 the Stanley Street tram service was extended beyond the Fiveways, past the Gabba and round the corner along Lisburn and La Trobe Streets into Lytton Road. It passed 'Riversdale' which was acquired by the South Brisbane City Council in 1903 and made into parkland. The line skirted the west side of East Brisbane's highest land, Sinclair's Hill, where St Benedict's Catholic Church and convent school were located. It was the pick of the land, leaving lower-lying land between Oakland Parade and the Creek for the Church of England Boys' Grammar School (1918). Despite the land's position (one of several affected by the 1893 flood) the school developed into Churchie, a school which has 1700 years 1-12 students, including boarders.
Tradespeople and shops were located along Lytton Road, Wellington Road and Stanley Street (the main location). The Triumph open-air picture theatre (c1921) was in Stanley Street, a short way west of the Lord Stanley Hotel. Further south there was a tributary of the Norman Creek, the Kingfisher Creek, which back flooded in 1893 as far west as the Gabba cricket ground. The creek was straightened in the mid-1920s and its lowest-lying part, which receives run-off from Sinclair's Hill, became Tristram Park. None of these flood-prone areas was good for swimming so a river baths was opened on the shoreline of Mowbray Park in 1919. The Mowbray Park surf life-saving park was formed in 1923.
East Brisbane adjoins Brisbane River and the Norman Creek. Except for the riverside Mowbray Park, the creek was more damaging in January 2011. Heath Park, Churchie’s sports fields and Kingfisher Creek and adjoining houses were flooded. The flood-prone open space beside Clarendon Street also conveyed floods into houses to its south, as far as Mowbray Terrace.
Between 1998 and 2003 house prices increased by 114%, compared with 66% for greater Brisbane. In 2004 the median price hit $500,000. A new shopping centre, Mowbray, was opened in Lytton Road.
East Brisbane has nine sites listed on the Queensland heritage register, including the Mowbraytown Presbyterian Church (1885) in Mowbray Terrace, the primary school (1899), Mowbray Park and the war memorial (1903, 1916) and the Classic Cinema (1927) built on the site of the open-air picture theatre. Hanworth House (1864) on Lytton Road was damaged by fire in 2013 while undergoing renovation.
The published census figures for the present suburb of East Brisbane have been: