Main content area

Places

BACK TO ALL STORIES

What goes up must come down

The Queen Victoria Building (affectionately known as the QVB) was designed by George McRae and completed in 1898. A magnificent shopping complex, built in a grand Victorian style, it was saved from demolition in 1982 - unlike many Sydney buildings.

These photographs record Sydney as she appeared to earlier generations, her important landmarks, simple dwellings and small businesses, all sacrificed to meet the changing tastes and needs of an emerging and modern metropolis.

Along with city buildings, Sydney streets have also come and gone. Sydney's oldest street, George Street, is one that has survived. Originally named the 'High' Street, even earlier this major thoroughfare was known as 'Sergeant-Major's Row'. In 1810 it was renamed 'George' Street in honour of the ruling monarch, King George the Third.

>View these images of Sydney building from 1872 in the Library's catalogue

Demolished landmarks

Take a look at some of Sydney's demolished landmarks and wander through the city's changing streetscapes of the past 160 years.

About this item: 
This building had been on the south-west corner of Pitt and Park Streets since the 1840s as a butcher's shop. By the 1850s it had become the Butchers Arms hotel, which changed its name to the Volunteer Hotel around 1862. It was demolished in 1882, to be replaced by the Equitable Building. This became Park House, one of several buildings in the block now owned by the Sydney City Council and planned for demolition to create an open square opposite the Town Hall.
[Volunteer Hotel, Pitt Street Sydney, ca. 1870]
[ca. 1870s]
New South Wales. Government Printing Office
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a089188
About this item: 
Engineer Thomas Barker built a cloth mill adjacent to his flour mills near the corner of Sussex and Bathurst Streets in 1840. After several changes of ownership, he re-bought the mills in 1870. The tweed mill was destroyed by fire 1872 and then acquired by John Vicars in 1874 and moved to Marrickville in 1894. Much of the mill complex was destroyed during City Council resumptions for the construction of Day Street in 1915.
[Barker & Co. Mills, cnr. of Sussex & Bathurst Sts., Sydney]
undated [pre Jun 1872]
Digital ID: 
a089484
View collection item detail
About this item: 
Fort Macquarie was built in 1821 on the end of Bennelong Point, where the Sydney Opera House now stands. Completed by convict labour using stone from the Domain, the fort had 15 guns and housed a small garrison. The powder magazine beneath the tower was capable of storing 350 barrels of gunpowder. The fort was demolished in 1901 to make way for the tramway sheds that occupied the site until the construction of Utzon's masterpiece.
Sydney Streets and Buildings, 1861-ca.1900 / chiefly by Kerry & Co.
1861-ca.1900
Digital ID: 
a568005
View collection item detail
About this item: 
This photograph accompanied a scathing Government report into the city's sewerage system. Of these dwellings, it said, "Any one who may be curious to know how long Colonial timber will last, until, by the combined action of the elements, white ants, and other sources of destruction, it becomes triturated into powder, can satisfy their curiosity by ascertaining the date on which these houses were constructed. The corner house is occupied and used as a butcher's shop; it is a filthy stinking place..."
Sydney City and Suburban Sewage and Health Board : photographs, with excerpts from the final report of the committee appointed "To inquire into the state of crowded dwellings and areas in the city of Sydney and suburbs, so far as it affects public health"
Nov - Dec 1875
Digital ID: 
a424011
View collection item detail
About this item: 
In 1845 the Australian Subscription Library moved to the corner of Macquarie and Bent Streets. It was taken over by the Government in 1869 and renamed the Free Public Library of NSW. It was demolished for the Premier Wing of the State Office Block (1967). This in turn was demolished for the Aurora Place/Macquarie Apartments complex, which won both the Wilkinson and Sulam architecture awards in 2004.
Free Public Library, corner of Bent & Macquarie Sts, Sydney, 1877
1877
New South Wales. Government Printing Office
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a089193
About this item: 
In 1841, former convict and auctioneer Samuel Lyons built Lyons Terrace, a substantial row of elegant houses in Liverpool Street opposite Hyde Park. Each terrace cost $5000. The house on the extreme left was demolished in 1910 to make way for Wentworth Avenue. The next two became the Australian Picture Palace. The remaining terraces and the house on the right were demolished for the YWCA headquarters in 1923. Not all was lost. Lyons Terrace provided the cast-iron Ionic columns used by William Hardy at Eryldene, Gordon.
[Lyons Terrace, Liverpool Street, Sydney]
undated [ca. 1875-1885?]
Digital ID: 
a089406
View collection item detail
About this item: 
As a showpiece for Sydney's 1879 International Exhibition, the Garden Palace was built in the grounds of the Botanic Gardens. Designed by the colonial architect James Barnett, it stood over 64 metres high. Using the new electric arc lamp to enable construction around the clock, workers completed the timber building in just eleven months. It burnt to the ground in 1882.
The Garden Palace, Sydney, N.S.Wales / [attributed to the New South Wales. Government Printing Office]
1880
New South Wales. Government Printing Office
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a089259
About this item: 
The three-storey Australian Mutual Provident building (on left) was built in 1880. It was remodelled and enlarged in 19610 to become a six storey building. Further land was bought and in 1917-19 the building was extended to cover the entire Pitt, Bond Hamilton and Little George Streets block. It all disappeared under the Australia Square project in 1963. The island in the centre now accommodates the Dobell Memorial Sculpture by Bert Flugelman (known as the 'shish kebab'), transplanted from Martin Place in 1999.
Bond St. looking west / Slade
ca. 1884-1889
William Joseph Slade
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a128815
About this item: 
The Royal Arcade ran from George Street near the markets, through to Pitt Street, near the School of Arts. Over 90 metres long, it was well lit, with a lofty clerestory and gas lamps. There were 31 shops on the ground floor, 36 officer on the first floor and a photographic studio above them at the George Street end. Of Sydney's five Victorian arcades, only the Strand survived twentieth century development, the Royal disappearing beneath the Hilton Hotel in the mid 1970s.
Photographs - New South Wales, 1879 - ca. 1892 / N.S.W. Government Printer
1879 - ca.1892
New South Wales. Government Printing Office
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a924050
About this item: 
The Old Fish Markets at Bourke and Plunkett Streets Woolloomooloo were opened in 1871. They were extended and altered in 1888 and 1893 to cover the entire block bounded by Bourke, Plunkett, Forbes and Wilson Streets. Then known as the Eastern markets, they were demolished and replaced by the Astor Apartments in the 1960s.
Fish Market Woolloomooloo - Sydney
1892
New South Wales. Government Printing Office
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a089754
About this item: 
The Bubonic Plague hit Sydney in January 1900 and within eight months 103 people were dead. Carried by rats, the plague spread throughout the waterfront streets. Quarantine areas were established from 24 March to 17 July and local residents were employed in cleansing and disinfecting operations, including the demolition of 'slum' buildings. In the end, nearly 53,000 metric tons of rubbish was dumped at sea or burnt and professional rat catchers killed over 34500 rats.
Views taken during Cleansing Operations, Quarantine Area, Sydney, 1900, Vol. I / under the supervision of Mr George McCredie, F.I.A., N.S.W.
1900
Digital ID: 
a147059
View collection item detail
About this item: 
Anthony Hordern's Palace Emporium was built in 1904, after a fire destroyed the original Haymarket store. The new building had frontages in George, Pitt and Goulburn Streets. Advertised as the largest emporium south of the Equator, those tore employed 4000 staff. The building was remodelled in 1933. It was demolished in the early 1980s, but the site lay dormant for twenty years. It is now the World Square complex, which contains the 84 storey World Tower.
Nos 569-700 George Street; (Anthony Horderns & Sons)
1924-5
Hall & Co.
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hall_35121
About this item: 
Full title: Series 03 Part 04: Sydney shops, offices and stores etc. (National building, Nestle & Anglo-Swiss Condensed Milk Co., Norwich Chambers), ca. 1921-1927 / photographed by Arthur Ernest Foster Despite the best efforts of these twin Atlases, carved in stone, the four-storey Norwich Building at the corner of Hunter and Bligh Streets was demolished in 1923. It was replaced by the ten-storey Metropolitan Building. This in turn disappeared in the 1960s rush to modernise Sydney
Series 03 Part 04: Sydney shops, offices and stores etc.
ca. 1921-1927
Digital ID: 
a6531024
View collection item detail
About this item: 
Houses, offices and St Stephen's Church (just visible to the left) were demolished to create Martin Place. The widening had begun in 1892, but the final section from Castlereagh Street to Macquarie Street was not completed until 1935. Historic Burdekin House, regarded as the grandest town house in Sydney, was demolished in 1933 to enable the relocation of the new St Stephen's Church from Phillip Street to Macquarie Street, Martin Place did not become a pedestrian plaza until 1969.
Hood Collection part II : [City streets and scenes: including streetscapes, labour processions, military parades and memorials, statues and Cenotaph]
ca. 1905-ca. 1955
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a215018
About this item: 
Joe Dobson, seen here demolishing Hoffnung's building in Pitt Street, had been a demolisher for 15 years. The previous year, while demolishing the MLC building in Martin Place, he had fallen eight metres into a lift well. He broke both arms and his pelvis, but the experience did not seem to diminish his enthusiasm for the job.
Demolishing Hoffnung's building, Pitt Street, Sydney
15/11/1939
Ernie Bowen
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_19948
About this item: 
Many years in the planning, the Regent Theatre in George Street opened in 1928. Inside was a massive marble stairway adorned with fountains and statuary, leading to a long salon, furnished with gilt chairs and settees of the Louis XIV period. It was sold in 1972, as J.C. Williamsons needed money to rebuild Her Majesty's Theatre, destroyed by fire in 1970. Although classified by the National Trust, The Regent was demolished in 1989. A 48 storey residential glass tower facing Bathurst Street and a 33 storey tower of 180 serviced apartments on Kent Street is proposed for the site.
Theatre queue for Regent Theatre (taken for Fox Films)
22/4/1946
Digital ID: 
hood_21602
View collection item detail
About this item: 
The art deco Rural Bank, on Martin Place between Phillip and Elizabeth Streets, was built in 1936. Despite public protest, it was demolished in 1983 to make way for the 40 storey State Bank Centre in 1985.
Item 25: Walkabout magazine : New South Wales photographs [Sydney restaurants & hotels, parks & fountains, streets & people, City & Harbour]
1941-1967
Digital ID: 
a388008
View collection item detail
About this item: 
The Prince Edward Theatre, in Castlereagh Street, between Martin Place and King Street, was built in 1924. One of the first lavish picture palaces, it lasted 40 years and was regarded as 'The Theatre Beautiful'. The entrance from Castlereagh Street led to a richly decorated marble corridor lined with alabaster urns full of fresh flowers. At the end, stairs rose to the auditorium, where 1500 patrons could be seated. The building was demolished without ceremony over several years in the 1960s to be replaced by BNP Paribas Center.
Castlereagh Street, Sydney
14 Jan 1966 - 2 Jul 1973
Digital ID: 
a1619001
View collection item detail

Open spaces

The city of Sydney has some exceptional open spaces. Over 130 hectares of parks, gardens and plazas are set aside within the city.

Open spaces provide sanctuary from the hubbub of urban life and allow public access to the natural beauty of Sydney's harbour setting.

Sydney's first officially planned open space was the Governor's Domain, set aside by Governor Phillip in 1788. Originally extending down to Circular Quay, the Domain was opened to the general public in the 1830s. Since then it has been a gathering place for concerts, picnics, official celebrations, political meetings and sporting activities.

From moments of quiet reflection to loud and angry protest, see how anything can happen in the parks and open spaces located within Sydney, one of the world's most beautiful cities.

Parks and plazas

About this item: 
This photograph, looking across the Domain towards the Iron Church on Macquarie Street, was reproduced as an engraving in the Illustrated London News 10 May 1862. It show Stephenson's XI, the first English cricket team to tour Australia. After winning in Victoria, they lost to the combined Victoria and NSW 22 in the Domain. Their defeat may have been the result of the unlimited champagne forced upon them wherever they went.
Cricket match in the Domain, 1862
between Wed 29 Jan-Sat 1 Feb 1862
Freeman Brothers
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a128283
About this item: 

This view of Hyde Park from the spire of St James' Church can be dated from the construction of the temporary ball room (on the right) designed for the visit of Prince Alfred in January 1868. Before the ball, the Prince had been treated to a demonstration of a mongoose being let loose into a cage of snakes at the then National Musuem (in the centre). The Royal visit was less than a success, culminating in an attempted assassination at Clontarf.

>See the Library's story on Felons, including Henry James O’Farrell – attempted assassin

Pavilion in Hyde Park, Sydney
[ca. 1867-1868]
Digital ID: 
a089891
View collection item detail
About this item: 
The statue of Captain James Cook, erected in Hyde Park opposite the Australian Museum, was unveiled on 25 February 1879. It commemorated Cook's death in Hawaii in 1779. Although Hyde Park's greenery may look old, most of its vegetation and 600 trees were planted after construction of the city's underground railway in the 1920s. In 1844 it was described as 'merely a large piece of brown ground fenced in'.
[Captain Cook's statue and the Australian Museum, Sydney]
undated [ca. 1880s]
Digital ID: 
a089208
View collection item detail
About this item: 
This tranquil scene is a view of oaks from the entrance to Domain, near St Mary's Cathedral, looking to the entrance near Macquarie Street. In 1810-12, Governor Macquarie built a similar 290 metre wall in the Botanic Gardens to exclude trespassers, although the 'respectable class of inhabitants' could resort there for 'innocent recreation' during the day time.
Avenue of oaks, from entrance to Domain, near St. Mary's Cathedral to entrance from Macquarie Street [Sydney]
undated [ca. 1870]
Digital ID: 
a325031
View collection item detail
About this item: 
The Garden Palace, erected in the Botanic Gardens to house the 1879 Sydney International Exhibition, provided an excellent elevated vantage point to view Sydney's parklands and harbour. The balcony outside the Queensland Court was adorned with ferns and tropical plants and provided a relaxing spot away from the hubbub inside.
Album of photographic views of Sydney, ca. 1879-1884 / Tronier Artist Photographer
ca. 1879-1884
August Tronier
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a679008
About this item: 
This is the south-east corner of Hyde Park, looking across Liverpool Street to the spires of the Unitarian Church. Built in 1879, the church was destroyed by fire in 1936. Hyde Park in the nineteenth century was mostly grass, criss-crossed with paths and dotted with scattered trees. The present design of Hyde Park is the result of a 1924 City Council competition, won by Norman B Weekes' highly formal plan. His plan featured a central avenue of fig trees with gardens on either side.
Hyde Park looking toward Liverpool St., 1870
1870 [ca. late 1870s]
Digital ID: 
a089892
View collection item detail
About this item: 
Wynyard Park is only a remnant of the large area once occupied by the military barracks, where British troops were garrisoned in the early years of settlement. The original parade fronted George Street. As the city became more prosperous, the presence of the military in the centre of town became unpopular and the barracks were demolished. It was dedicated as a public park on 1 July 1887.
Wynyard Square [Sydney] View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a089602
About this item: 
When Governor Lachlan Macquarie arrived in 1810 he developed an extensive network of roads. He also reclaimed Farm Cove from private farmers by enclosing the Domain with walls and paling fences, and in 1813 constructed a 5km road through the Domain for his wife Elizabeth's recreation. It was completed in June 1816. The historic rock chair at the end of the promontory was made for her to enjoy the panoramic view of the harbour and the path to it soon became 'the principal promenade of the Sydney beaux and bells'
[Mrs Macquarie's Chair, Sydney] / Wilson Mew photo.
[1900]
Wilson Mew
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a089937
About this item: 
By the early 1900s, Sydney's city parks has become important and highly valued spaces. Between 1904 and 1911 the City Council erected a number of rotundas in city parks. Large crowds were drawn to regular performances by brass bands.
Hyde Park - Band Day
ca.1890s
Digital ID: 
a116204
View collection item detail
About this item: 
Hyde Park was excavated to construct Museum and St James stations for the city underground railway. The Central - Museum - St James line was opened on 20th December 1926, about nine months after the first electric train service was introduces in Sydney. The western section Central - Town Hall - Wynyard opened on 28th February 1932. It was another twenty four years before the city underground loop was created with the opening of Circular Quay between Wynyard and St James on 22 January 1956.
Construction of Sydney City Railway, 1922-1923 / photographed by J. Bradfield
1922-1923
John Job Crew Bradfield
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a1624058
About this item: 
Situated towards the southern end of Hyde Park on the main avenue, the ANZAC Memorial stands 30 metres high. On its northern approach is the 'Lake of Reflections', bordered by poplar trees in memory of the battle areas of France. Built as a tribute to the Australian Imperial Force, it was officially opened by His Royal Highness, the Duke of Gloucester on 24 November 1934.
Opening of Anzac War Memorial, Sydney, by Duke of Gloucester
24 Nov 1934
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_03502
About this item: 
Multiple divers leap from the tower during a swimming carnival at the Domain Baths. Designed for competition swimming, the Domain baths (The Dom) was a tidal pool with a grandstand for 1500 spectators and six-tire diving tower 54 feet above mean sea level. The antiquated Edwardian grandstand was removed in 1968 and The Dom replaced a new Olympic Pool, called the Andrew (Boy) Charlton Pool.
Nine divers off the tower, Domain Baths
1930s ?
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
hood_07921
About this item: 
This view of the Domain and Hyde Park shows the bulls-eye appearance of the newly built Archibald Fountain and the Anzac Memorial still under construction in south Hyde Park. The Domain, which originally extended down to the Harbour, had been set aside by Governor Phillip in 1788 as his private reserve. Hyde Park, names after London's Hyde Park, is Australia's olderst park, gazetted in 1810. It was the location of Sydney's first racecourse and cricket ground.
Hood Collection part II : [City streets and scenes: including streetscapes, labour processions, military parades and memorials, statues and Cenotaph]
ca. 1905-ca. 1955
Sam Hood
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a215011
About this item: 
The Domain has been a place for individuals to air their views since 1878 and a magnet for the political, the religious and the eccentric. Raymond de Berquelle, who had just arrived from Europe, found it amazing that no-one was ever arrested and he returned week after week for eight years to record the phenomenon. Domain speaker Tom Shone-Rogers harangued a small crowd every Sunday at 2pm with his belief that 'humane virtue, health and moral well-being have been near obliterated'.
Sydney Domain, 1964-1971 / photographed by Raymond de Berquelle
1964-1971
Raymond De Berquelle
View collection item detail
Digital ID: 
a895001

Made possible through a partnership with Moran Health Care Group