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.
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.