Sandy Hill was, during the nineteenth and early twentieth century, Ottawa's wealthiest neighbourhood. Then a fair distance from downtown it was home to most of Ottawa's Lumber Barons and to the Prime Minister who lived at what is now known as Laurier House. It was for this reason that the University of Ottawa located in this region.
The construction of bridges over the canal and the introduction of automobiles and streetcars made the area much closer to downtown, and it began to decline as the very wealthy moved to Rockcliffe Park. The neighbouhood became much denser and more middle class.
The area saw much growth at the end of the Second World War as the baby boom increased the population and the nearby federal government began hiring. Many of the once grand mansions became embassies. Today many nations have their embassies in Sandy Hill, including Russia and many African nations.
The neighbourhood is today a very mixed one with both university students and senior citizens, and also many families. The area is mainly English speaking but there is a large francophone population as well. The area is now very close to downtown, especially to the Rideau Centre, Ottawa's premier shopping area.
The area is well served by mass transit and the Transitway passes by the university. It is also in an excellent school district.