It is the easternmost district of the area formerly covered by the Burgh Muir, gifted to the City by David I in the 12th Century. It is bounded to the east by Dalkeith Rd, to the west by Causewayside, to the North by East and West Preston St, and to the south by East and West Mayfield.
Even after the 1586 consolidation of land rights over the Burgh Muir, the area remained largely rural. The Newington Estate was purchased sometime before 1672 by John Lauder, a Baillie and Treasurer of Edinburgh, who thereafter took the landed designation "of Newington", until he became Sir John Lauder, 1st Baronet of Fountainhall. This family later also became possessed, by marriage, of the estate of The Grange, Edinburgh.
With overcrowding of the city centre being initially alleviated by migration to the north, to the New Town, via the North Bridge erected in 1772. However, many people felt that the New Town, elegant as it was, did not offer privacy and intimacy, and so, when the South Bridge was built in 1788, parts of Newington became available for development and migration there commenced, generally into small villas. Many of these can still be seen. Much of the tenement building, however was not to come for another 100 years.
This main road is highly commercial, containing various retail businesses and pubs. These are mostly the ground floor of residential tenement buildings.
Newington is heavily populated by students, many living in Pollock Halls of Residence, purpose-built halls for the University of Edinburgh. This popularity with students is largely due to the area's proximity to both of the University of Edinburgh's main campuses: George Square and King's Buildings.
Places of interest in Newington include the Jewish Cemetery at Sciennes House Place, which adjoins 5 Sciennes House Place (formerly Sciennes Hill House), the site of the only known meeting of Sir Walter Scott and Robbie Burns in the winter of 1786-87. A plaque on the site commemorates this event, which was immortalised by the painter Charles Martin Hardie A.R.S.A.
There are many different species of native and non-native trees and shrubs in Newington. Some common trees include: Scots Pine (Pinus Sylvestris), Small Leaved Lime (Tilia Cordata), Whitebeam (Sorbus Aria), Hawthorn (Crataegus monogyna), Rowan (Sorbus Aucuparia), European Beech (Fagus Sylvatica), Holly (Ilex Aquifolium), Cherry Laurel (Prunus laurocerasus), Sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus), Horse Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum), Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior), Japanese Cherry (Prunus Serrulata), Sargent's Cherry (Prunus Sargentii), Copper Beech (Fagus Sylvatica Purperea), Yew (Taxus Baccata) and Silver Birch (Betula Pendula). There are some species which are uncommon in Newington but do exist here including: Guelder Rose (Viburnum Opulus), Sessile Oak (Quercus Petraea), Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Lacteus), Weeping Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster x Watereri), Snowberry (Symphoricarpos Albus), Japanese Aralia (Fatsia Japonica), Spotted Laurel (Aucuba Japonica), Himalyan Birch (Betula utilis subsp. jacquemontii), White Willow (Salix Alba), Crack Willow (Salix Fragilis), Laburnum (Laburnum anagyroides), Norway Maple Crimson King (Acer Platanoides Crimson King) and Fastigaite Hornbeam (Carpinus Betulus Fastigaita), Potrugal Laurel (Prunus lusitanica) and Wych Elm (Ulmus Glabra). Some naturalized foreign species include Buddleia (Buddleia Davidii), Himalayan Tree Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Frigidus), Red Berried Cotoneaster or Simon's Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster Simonsii), Purple Toadflax (Linaria Purpurea) and Rhodedendron (Rhodedendron Ponticum). Hypericum Calycinum is starting to spread.