Postcards from 100 years ago



George Street

The origins of George Street lie in the layout of the Sydney Cove colony. Captain Arthur Phillip placed the convicts and marines on the rocky western slopes of the bay. A track leading from the convicts' encampment in the area of The Rocks, past the marine barracks and alongside the banks of a stream to a brick pit, located near to the present location of Central Station. This track that eventually became George Street and is one of the two original thoroughfares, along with the track that became Bridge Street. It is possible that George Street was the first street in Australia.

71 George StreetUntil 1810 George Street was generally referred to as High Street in the English custom. George Street was named for King George III of the United Kingdom by Governor Lachlan Macquarie in 1810.

Macquarie bequeathed a very British and monarchist flavour to the central streets - the given names of the current monarch, George III, and his queen, Charlotte - and the ducal titles of the sons of George III - York, Cumberland, Sussex, Clarence, Cambridge and Kent.

On 8 December 1899 an electric tramway was opened along George Street to Harris Street. This reduced the traditional dependence on horses and human feet. In 1959 the trams were replaced by diesel buses. 

George Street is still the busiest street in Sydney in terms of number of buses per hour; most bus services to the inner western and north-western suburbs travel along part of or most of George Street.

103 George Street - Town Hall and Queen Victoria Market

103 George Street NowIn 1932, as part of the construction of the City Circle, the George Street roadway was opened outside the Sydney Town Hall and Town Hall underground station was constructed. Further north, Wynyard underground station was constructed with a major entrance to George Street near Hunter Street.

David Jones

57 George StreetDavid Jones store on the corner of George and Barrack Street can be seen on the right foreground of the original postcard. Just 50 years after the founding of the colony, Mr David Jones, a Welsh-born immigrant, opened "large and commodious premises" on the corner of George and Barrack Streets on 24 May 1838. David Jones eventually retired and left the management of the store to his business partners. Unfortunately, the store failed and the assets of David Jones were assigned to Trustees. He came back out of retirement, borrowed heavily, and with the help of new partners and his son Edward Lloyd, managed to recreate the store's success. 

By 1887, in a rebuilt George Street store, (which boasted the city's first hydraulic lift) the business had expanded to include furniture and furnishings and David Jones' mail order department which sent parcels to all corners of Australia.

David Jones Limited, now a public company, announced plans to build another city store. A block of land had been purchased on Market Street between Elizabeth and Castlereagh. The move was considered madness by many as the area was so remote from the city's retail centre. 

Charles Lloyd Jones now succeeded his brother Edward as chairman of David Jones Limited. He proved to be a visionary like his grandfather, and undertook the building of the new Elizabeth Street store. When it opened in 1927, this grand department store, which remains the flagship of the company to this day, single-handedly moved the hub of Sydney's retailing to Hyde Park. 

Railway Square and Marcus Clark Building


7 Railway Square - George Street - Marcus ClarkRailway Square was originally known as Central Square. In the 1800s and early 1900s, Central Square was the heart of the city's modern retail district, enhanced by the presence of Central railway station and its adjacent hotels, erected to serve country visitors arriving in Sydney by train. The Marcus Clark department stores were located in a number of buildings at Central Square. The church behind the Marcus Clark building is Christ Church St. Laurence, consecrated in 1845 by W.G.Broughton, 1st Bishop of Australia.

Railway SquareMarcus Clark & Co made arguably its biggest and most lasting mark on Sydney in 1906 when the James Nangle-designed Central Square building, known as the flat-iron building, was erected on the corner of George and Pitt Streets, Railway Square, on the site of an early toll-gate. For all visitors entering the city from the south it was an impressive sight: a landmark nine-storey structure of 150 feet in height, the tallest in Sydney at the time. 

The station clock tower seen in the modern picture is a recent addition and was added in 1926


136 George Street

258 George Street





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