The area was once an industrial area and busy commercial dockside serving the area, while the Newcastle side also hosted a regular street market. In recent years the docks became run-down, and the area has since been heavily redeveloped to provide a modern environment for the modern arts, music and culture, as well as new housing developments (e.g. at St Peter's Marina). Along the Newcastle side is an area that houses restaurants, bars and night clubs as well as housing and the Newcastle Law Courts. The NewcastleGateshead initiative now lists the Quayside as a top ten attraction.
The Gateshead side of the river is designated and signposted as Gateshead Quays. It is the site of the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and The Sage Gateshead performing arts and conference centre. Also moored on the Gateshead side from 1984 until 2008 was the Tuxedo Princess (replaced for a time by sister ship Tuxedo Royale), a floating nightclub, beneath the Tyne Bridge near The Sage.
One of the Quayside's main features is the pedestrian Gateshead Millennium Bridge, opened in 2001, which spans the river between the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Newcastle Law Courts. The other bridge which allows direct road and pedestrian links between the two banks is the low level Swing Bridge, built in 1876, and located nearer the two respective city centres. Using the two bridges, the Quayside is the venue for the junior course of the annual Great North Run.
In July 2019, Newcastle City Council passed plans to erect a giant observation wheel on the quayside at Spiller's Wharf as part of a wider ‘Giants on the Quayside’ development. Dubbed the "Whey Aye" wheel, at 460 feet (140 m) tall it would be the tallest such structure in Europe upon completion, which was anticipated to take two years.
Notable buildings include:
- The Customs House, a Grade II listed building built in 1766, altered and refronted in 1833 by Sydney Smirke.
- The Malmaison Hotel, a Grade II listed building built in 1900 as a warehouse for the Cooperative Society.
- Newcastle upon Tyne Combined Court Centre, built between 1984 and 1990, designed by Napper Collerton, architects.
Go North East's QuayLink Q1, Q2 and Q3 services operate frequently. QuayLink connects most of the main attractions and destinations in NewcastleGateshead, serving those who live, work, study, or those just visiting the area. The buses run frequently, from early until late, 7 days a week.
Q1 begins at Gateshead, before operating in a circle around East Gateshead, serving Deckham, Carr Hill, Felling, Heworth, Leam Lane Estate, Springwell Estate, Wrekenton, Low Fell and Shipcote, before again serving Gateshead, then The Sage, Gateshead College, Baltic Square, Quayside, Newcastle City Centre and Newcastle Central Station.
Q2 operates the same route as the Q1, but in the opposite direction.
Q3 begins at Newcastle Great Park, before serving Brunton Park, Regent Centre, Gosforth, Newcastle City Centre, Quayside, Ouseburn, St Peter's Basin, Walker Riverside and Wallsend.
- Morton, David (4 April 2018). "Then and Now: Newcastle Quayside Sunday market, 1978". nechronicle.
- "St Peter's, Quayside". Newcastle Residential Areas. Retrieved 10 January 2016.
- NewcastleGateshead Initiative. "NewcastleGateshead Quayside Top 10 Attractions". Retrieved 2 June 2008.
- "Tuxedo Princess – the floating nightclub". Inside Out. BBC. 8 August 2008. Retrieved 13 May 2011.
- "Junior Great North Run road closures for Saturday - where and when restrictions are in place". The Chronicle. 9 September 2017. Retrieved 25 March 2018.
- "Massive Whey Aye wheel approved for Newcastle despite claim it will be 'cheap and nasty'". The Northern Echo.
- "Plans for largest Ferris wheel in Europe approved". 26 July 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.
- "Quayside". Timmonet. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- "The Custom House". Quayside Lives. Retrieved 29 September 2015.
- "Mood changes at the Malmaison". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 8 February 2016.
- "Law Courts, Newcastle upon Tyne". Modern Architecture. Retrieved 29 September 2015.