Postcards from 100 years ago



York Street


Famous landmarks and events in York Street - past and present

392 York StreetSt Philip's is the oldest Anglican Parish in Australia, together with the Parish of Parramatta.  In January 1788 eleven ships carrying around 1400 people, including 786 convicts, arrived from England on the east coast of Australia to establish a penal colony. The Chaplain of the First Fleet was the Rev Richard Johnson and he conducted the first Christian service in Australia on 3 February 1788.

The original church was built by orders of the colony's first chaplain, Rev Richard Johnson using Convict labour in June 1793. The wattle and daub construction church was later burnt down by convicts in 1798. A second stone church operated on the current site of Lang Park between 1810 to 1856 with the use of poor materials and gathered a reputation as "The ugliest church in Christendom". This second church had a 150 feet high round clock tower. 

The current building on York Street is the third church building on Church Hill, and was designed by Edmund Blacket. The church tower was styled after Magdalen Tower at Oxford, UK and was opened in 1856.

The following is a record of a meeting for the formation of Australian Football in Sydney Sydney Mail – Saturday, 3 July 1880 . . FOOTBALL NOTES – by Leatherstocking (William J Hammersley)
I suppose that the meeting which took place on Wednesday evening (June 30th) to consider the propriety of adopting the Victorian football rules has never been excelled in this colony in point of numbers and enthusiasm. At 8 o’clock there were fully 50 persons present; before the chairman took his seat the long room of the Freemasons’ Hotel (in York Street) was crowded, and in a very short time only standing room could be obtained. To put down the number of footballers present at 100 is certainly not giving more than a fair estimate and even those who were sanguine that the movement would be warmly taken up were not prepared for such marked success at the outset. . .

36 York Street

164 York Street

36 York Street Now

York Street Synagogue.  The Bridge Street was vacated in 1840 and services were held in rooms over shops or dwellings owned by members of the congregation. Finally land was purchased in York Street, close to where the Sydney Town Hall stands today, and a synagogue was designed by James Hume who had been associated with some of Sydney's finest buildings. The foundation stone was laid in 1842 and funds were donated liberally by both Jews and Christians.

Gentile interest in the project remained intense and the committee informed "all who may be desirous of visiting this place of worship that the attendance of members of all creeds is welcomed by the Jewish religionists". The building was consecrated on 2 April, 1844, with the music for the ceremony in the hands of Isaac Nathan, father of Australian music, who was also associated with the music at St Mary's Cathedral. For the occasion Nathan composed settings for Baruch Habba ("Blessed be he that cometh") and Halleluyah.

72 AWA TowerThe AWA Tower was designed by architects Morrow and Gordon from 1937–1939 and became one of the most notable commercial buildings of Sydney . It brought geometric Art Deco design and modernism to the city skyline. The communications tower was an integral part of the structure and remained the tallest structure in Sydney until the 1960s. The tower is 46 metres (151 ft) high atop a 55-metre (180 ft) high building.

The tower (featuring the AWA logo) features in the science fiction film The Matrix; when Neo and Trinity rescue Morpheus from the agents, the AWA Tower can be seen below as they make their escape by helicopter. Also designed by Morrow and Gordon is the  Grace Building during the late 1920s and opened in 1930 by Grace Brothers, the Australian department store magnates, as their headquarters. "The building was designed to use the first two storeys in the manner of a department store. The remaining storeys were intended to provide rental office accommodation for importers and other firms engaged in the softgoods trade".   

 183 York Street




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