The original residents of Marrickville were the Cadigal people, who lived in the area for more than 40,000 years. The Cadigal were a clan of the Darug people and spoke the coastal Eora language. Other clans of the area included the Wangal, the Kameygal and the Bediagal. Aboriginal artefacts found around Cooks River and Alexandra Canal area indicate at least 7,000 years of occupation.
Marrickville has, from the earliest days of European settlement, been distinguished by its multicultural nature. European settlement of the area commenced with the first land grant in 1789. By 1809 all land within the district had been granted. By the 1830's Marrickville had been consolidated into five great estates, Anandale, Kingston Farm, Sara Dell, Tempe and Enmore. Only several hundred people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds, including English, Scottish, Italian, German, Dutch and Chinese, lived here. With just a small proportion of the land having been cleared and cultivated, the principal occupations were rural - grain-growing, market gardens, timber cutting, dairy farms, pig and poultry farms.
In 1861 the Municipality of Marrickville was proclaimed. It was soon followed by Newtown (1862), then St Peters (1871) and Petersham (1872). Camperdown was proclaimed in 1861 but did not function until 1868. From the 1880s to the 1920s Marrickville grew from a sparsely settled rural area to a densely populated industrial region. In 1948, just before the amalgamation of Marrickville, Petersham and St Peters Council, the combined population of the original municipalities peaked at over 89,000 people. In 1968 there was a realignment of boundaries, and sections of Newtown and Camperdown were added to Marrickville LGA. Today, according to the 2011 Census, Marrickville has a population of 81,489.
Migration has been paramount in the history of Marrickville. Each wave of migration has added to its character. The peak of migration occurred from the 1950s to the late 1970s when very large numbers of migrants arrived from southern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. The area has continued to become a new home to a diverse array of cultural groups. In the 2006 Census, 30.7% of Marrickville residents spoke a language other than English at home, with Greek, Vietnamese, Arabic and Portuguese being most common.