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The bay has been filled in to a considerable extent, with the reclamation area now totally concealing the ancient shoreline. Historically a poor and often disreputable quarter, it is now a comparatively wealthy and desirable neighbourhood known for its mix of heritage homes and more recent single-dwelling houses, as well as for its two large parks. Since the turn of the 20th century, extensive land reclamation partly using stone quarried from nearby headlands has seen Freemans Bay itself disappear.
The reclamation of the old bay was finished in , and Victoria Park was created on most of the resulting flat area. The coastline shifted more than one kilometre to the northwest of the city centre and is now composed of the concrete wharves of Viaduct Basin and the Tank Farm or as it is now renamed, the Wynyard Quarter. A stream called Waikuta 'Waters of the reed' discharged into the south eastern corner of the bay bottom of College Hill Road while the Tunamau 'To catch eels' stream came down from what is now Western Park and met the bay at the bottom of what is now Franklin Road.
Freemans Bay is one of the earliest settled areas in Auckland, and was earmarked for development and land reclamation in the s by Colonial Surveyor Felton Matthew who laid out the streets along the shores of the local bays. He was described by Dr John Logan Campbell in as "the most disgustingly immoral swindling scoundrel in town".
Local gossip had it that he was not actually married to the woman he was living with, or that there was something amiss in her past.
She apparently had been on intimate terms with Mrs Hobson and others in the Government House circle but after William Hobson's death in and Mrs Hobson's return to Britain she found herself shut out of genteel society in Auckland.