North Shore was originally created as a five-member electorate with the introduction of proportional representation in 1920, replacing Middle Harbour, Mosman, St Leonards and Willoughby and named after the North Shore of Sydney Harbour. It was abolished in 1927 and replaced by Lane Cove, Manly, Mosman, Neutral Bay, North Sydney and Willoughby. It was recreated in 1981.
It was originally expected to be a very safe Liberal seat; northern Sydney has been the power base for the Liberals and their predecessors for over a century. However, it was held by independents from 1981 to 1991–most notably Ted Mack from 1981 to 1988. The Liberals did not take the seat until 1991, but have held it with virtually no difficulty since then.