The Terraces at Nos. 17-31 Playfair Street are historically significant as representative examples of mid to late Victorian worker's style residential development, built by local speculative builder-owners. Together with the Atherden Street terraces and remnants in Foundation Park, they demonstrate the subdivision pattern that occurred in the period between 1870 and mid 1880s. The terraces are representative of simple, low quality, high density speculative developments which were built 1874-82. A number of the buildings were constructed by members of The Rocks police, who's ownership raised questions of police bribery at the time.
The site of the terrace, which extends back to the rock face to the west, and adjacent Foundation Park is significant as it emphasises the difficulties faced when developing in The Rocks precinct due to the topography of the area. The buildings are part of group that were the first restoration and revitalisation works undertaken by the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority, commencing in 1972.