The area was first settled as a farming district, hosting poultry, dairy, hops, orchards and Chinese market gardens. Various industries have also served in the area, including a brickworks at the top of Arthur Street and coal mines below Summerhill Road. The side of Knocklofty Hill served as a sandstone quarry. The area around Goulburn and Harrington Streets was once a notorious red-light district.
Considered a 'working class' suburb until the 1960s, West Hobart has become increasingly a popular inner-city suburb. Many of the houses in the area are older federation era buildings, prized for their views of the Derwent River.
Schools in the area include Lansdowne Crescent Primary School, and the Hobart campus of Guilford Young College on Barrack Street.