Sydney's gritty, industrial past collided head-on with its glitzy, property-obsessed present this week. A grimy wharf in the shadow of Harbour Bridge is about to be transformed into a multibillion-dollar development comprising expensive apartments, offices and restaurants. It's a prime site with spectacular harbour views, but the kilometre-long stretch of asphalt has never really had a name. 'East Darling Harbour' was about the best that anyone could come up with, but it was felt the district should in future be distinguished from Darling Harbour - an already-established retail and tourism precinct. So the New South Wales government invited people to come up with a suitable moniker for the shiny new development. The naming competition opened a can of worms. More than 1,500 suggestions poured in and were judged by a panel consisting of former politicians and other local worthies. They drew up a short list of names, among them Argyle Cove (after a nearby sandstone cutting), Waratah Bay (the state's floral emblem) and Eora Bay (an Aboriginal tribe). The shortlist prompted howls of protest and angry letters in local newspapers. The suggestions were branded politically correct, artificial and twee. Mariners' Cove, Miller's Cove and Barangaroo Bay were similarly condemned as timid and bland. Unions, supported by many ordinary Sydneysiders, envisaged a very different label being attached to the area: The Hungry Mile. That was its nickname during the dark days of the Great Depression, when thousands of desperate men trudged down to the docks each day in the hope of picking up a day's work. Only the biggest and strongest labourers were picked for the gruelling shifts - carrying sacks of wheat and other goods from ships to the dockside. The rest were rejected, and had to retrace their steps along the so-called 'hungry mile' with empty pockets and stomachs. The argument swung back and forth. 'Would you want to live somewhere called The Hungry Mile?' asked one of the naming panel. 'I thought we wanted something that had a bit more optimism.' Developers, too, were aghast at the prospect of a name reeking of union militancy and 1930s social strife being attached to their executive penthouses. Finally, this week, a compromise was reached. A portion of the area - Hickson Road, which runs along the docks - will be renamed The Hungry Mile. The district as a whole will receive one of the six shortlisted names in the next few weeks. The decision was welcomed by the Maritime Union of Australia. 'I'm sure there's many old wharfies up above who'll be looking down and celebrating with us,' said union official Harry Black. Depression-era ghosts and 21st-century yuppies will live side by side.