Cities with a heritage of heavy industry, such as Newcastle (NSW), face an insecure future as they undergo economic restructuring. The identities of cities are being refashioned by entrepreneurial urban governments, as part of a three-pronged attempt to market their territories. A social construction approach reveals the problematic nature of these symbolic reconstructions, their partiality, the reduction of heritage to a commodity, and the eliding of socio-economic disadvantage. The new post-industrial identity for Newcastle disinherits working people, ignores the local indigenous peoples, and trivialises the role of women. The richly layered urban landscape and historically constructed narratives - the local heritage - have been cynically appropriated and transformed for the purposes of place marketing. The rhetoric of post-industrialism conceals poverty and alienation, and the associated physical restructurings are displacing service-dependent populations. © 1996 Intellect Ltd.