Seven Hills, a residential suburb designed as a 'garden estate', is five km east of central Brisbane. Its development occurred mainly in the early post World War II years, as it lay undeveloped between public transport routes along Old Cleveland Road (tram) and the eastern suburbs railway line through Norman Park and Morningside. Seven Hills, a well identified suburb in the 1960s, was gradually submerged in Norman Park and Morningside, but in 2001 was gazetted as a suburb after considerable local agitation.
Seven Hill's relative closeness to central Brisbane recommended it as a subdividable estate in the 1890s, and it was marketed under that name. The hills (or rises) were later named after the seven hills of Rome: Palatine Hill, Capitoline Hill and Quirinal Hill on Amelia Avenue and Quirinal Drive; Aventine Hill at the end of Aventine Street; Caelian Hill at the end of Caelian Street; Esquiline Hill at the bend in Tranters Avenue; and Viminal Hill on a Crescent of the same name.
In 1912 the Belmont Shire Council (an area east of Seven Hills, extending to Tingalpa Creek) built a tramway from Belmont to the Norman Park-Morningside railway line, passing through the empty spaces of Seven Hills, following approximately Oateson Skyline Drive and Ferguson Road. The line, with a station near Aventine Hill, ran at a loss but was kept open until the shire joined Greater Brisbane Council. It was closed in 1926.
The tram service was an encouragement to urban development, and in 1913-14 Robert Oates, a Belmont Shire Councillor, was principal of Oatland Estates. In 1920 the firm, having acquired the Seven Hills site, sold it to the War Service Homes Commission. Representatives of the Commission had attended the second Australian town planning conference in Brisbane in 1918 at which 'garden city' suburbs were discussed, and the commission had already used the design concept for Sunnybank. A garden estate design, focused on the seven hills, was developed. In 1924 the Commission sold the estate to R.G. Oates Estates Ltd. The closure of the tram service struck at the estate's viability and by 1932 Oates was declared bankrupt. Many of the subdivisions came into Brisbane City Council's hands because of unpaid rates. Very few houses were built at Seven Hills and its chief attraction was vacant bushland for ramblers and picnics. Some land was agisted for dairying.
After World War II the State Housing Commission sponsored house building by owner-occupiers at Seven Hills. In a period of austere house construction the results were of mixed appearance, even if sound, and the 'garden estate' potential was submerged. Road making and drainage waited until the 1960s and sewerage until 1972. Public transport was by trolley bus and later diesel bus.
Methodist and Presbyterian churches were opened in 1950 and 1951, and a post office named Skyline was opened in 1953 at a small shopping centre at The Corso. An early shop at that site was the old Fortitude Valley school (1861); transported and re-erected in 1948.
The Seven Hills primary school was opened in 1960 and the adjoining site was taken for a TAFE college (1972) later a College of Art (Griffith University) and finally a campus of Southbank Institute of Technology.
The north-east section of Seven Hills was bushland, mostly owned by the council because of rate arrears. It included creeks and a summit with 360º views, and in 1978 the council decided to keep it as a reserve rather than sell it for housing. In 1995 the area of 52 ha was declared a bushland reserve.
In 1972 'Seven Hills' was removed from the list of Australia Post areas and in 1979 the post office was closed. By the 1990s most addresses were denoted as living in Norman Park or Morningside. A petition by residents resulted in the re-gazettal of Seven Hills as a suburb in 2001. The school keeps the name, but the shopping centre has been reduced to a couple of semi-retail outlets.
The census population of Seven Hills have been:
Eris Jolly, Seven Hills of Brisbane, Seven Hills, N.E. & E.M. Jolly, 2002