Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Queen Victoria Building

Yesterday's stained glass windows from the outside

To this building I owe a debt of gratitude. Imagine my delight in the late 60s discovering the oeuvre of Charmaine Clift, brown-stained and dog-eared, only knowing her 'til then from reading provocative columns in the Sydney Morning Herald. Squatting on the cold linoleum floor, my brain pulsed with every image of bohemian life on sparkling Greek islands, so far from the white-picket-fence of a life laid out for me.

Left: Prior to the 1890s, the site was occupied by the Old Police Courts according to this image from the State Archives
Right: A framed photograph presented to McCrae in July 1898

George McCrae was the City architect who designed the Corn Exchange in Sussex Street erected in 1887 and then this Queen Victoria Building erected in 1898. After many derelict years - to the brink of demolition - the QVB was restored in 1987 and refurbished in 2009. Starting as the Sydney Central Markets (SCM), it was used as offices for the city council and the main branch of the City of Sydney Library, until post restoration it became an upmarket arcade containing over 200 "brand names".


The George Street (nominally Sydney's main street) frontage showing the entrance into the area under the main dome. This photograph was taken from outside the Hilton Hotel where the CHOGM bomb exploded in February 1978, killing three people.

Left: Queen Victoria Markets in 1920 showing the intersection of George, Park & Druitt Streets.
Right: The QVB in 1970 from the Electricity Commission building on the corner of George & Bathurst Streets.



Top: The "front" of the QVB facing Sydney Town Hall showing the brooding statue of Queen Victoria.
Bottom: The QVB city block along George Street showing the central dome the entry to which is down at the street lights in the distance.

Historic images are the property of the City of Sydney and the State Archives of NSW

23 comments:

Dimple said...

That is a beautiful old building, I'm glad it was restored.

altadenahiker said...

Gripping yarn!

Lois said...

What a magnificent building! I'm so glad it has been preserved and is being used today. I love seeing the old pictures too.

JM said...

The whole post is just wonderful and the irst detail shot absolutely fantastic! What a great building!

Dawn said...

That building is so beautiful. I remember seeing it while I was there. I am glad that you included some older photographs of the building as well, for comparison.

Olivier said...

Les vitraux de tes deux derniers posts sont magnifiques (Magiques), j'aime beaucoup les vieilles photos pour permettre une comparaison.
The windows of your last two posts are great (Magic), I
many old photos for comparison.

Joan Elizabeth said...

Back in 2006 I remember being extremely crabby one Saturday and chose to spend the afternoon photographing this building ... my good temper was quickly restored ... it's a photographers paradise.

brattcat said...

What a story you've told here in words and images. I would love to explore this building with my little lens.

Ramosforest.Environment said...

Beautiful your country and buildings.
Luiz Ramos

PS.
Flamengo is 2009 Brazilian Soccer Champion.
Brazilian Soccer Calendar ends in December. Just last Sunday, when Flamengo was the best Brazilian Team.
Popeye is not the Flamengo symbol.

See news here:
http://oglobo.globo.com/esportes/brasileiro2009/mat/2009/12/07/com-taca-tres-premiados-flamengo-comemora-hexa-na-festa-do-brasileirao-2009-915102531.asp

Ann said...

Of all the things they could have done with this building and all the suggested options, for once they picked the right one and opened it up to the people. I remember when it was all partitioned with false floors and housed the City of Sydney Library.

In Three Rivers, Michigan said...

The colors in the first photo are absolutely stunning. I did scroll down and read the very interesting history and look at the old photos too, thank you, but that top photo, wow.

Three Rivers Daily Photo

Paula said...

I'm playing the "this is so not fair" card right here and now. Julie, it's beautiful!

J Bar said...

Great shots Julie. Especially the evening shot with the golden glow of the lights.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Tulsa Gentleman said...

I will add my "wow" to the rest. The red stone walls and green copper domes make it perfect for Christmas decorations. I have never seen such a handsome building. Thanks for the old photos and history. Great post.

Julian Davis said...

I love all the pictures and description regarding this magnificent building. Great job Julie!!
Sydney Things To Do

Marka said...

I like the photos and the history behind them!

Hilda said...

What a fantastic building with such magnificent details and stained glass windows.! I'm so happy for Sydney that it was restored, whatever its use.

Vogon Poet said...

You made me happy! I like the new angles on this gorgeous building and the old photos. I'm a bit sad that it is and arcade for silly brand names, but if this help it to survive...

diane said...

Its a beautiful old building and looks pretty sish now that it has been referbished. Was it ever Anthony Hordens or am I thinking of another building? Memory is a bit dodgy after 50 years away from Sydney.

Julie said...

Nope, not Anthony Horderns. That is another building on one of the corners of Hyde Park, the gold painted on in this previous post by me http://sydney-eye.blogspot.com/2009/07/mid-month-theme-subway-day-3-of-3.html and this post by Jim http://sydney-city.blogspot.com/2009/02/railway-square-post-office.html

It is a gorgeous building and I will try to photograph some of the detail over the next few weeks.

Marie-Noyale said...

Nice to see the whole building!
That's a special one.

Shelle said...

I remember this building very well, actually I have a fun shot of my at night here...in my very young days. If I remember rightly they had renovated this before I left...must've been the 80's, yes I should've read ALL your post!!

Shelle said...

I forgot to mention...you should check out my Dad's old factory on my renovation blog. www.itsnotcalledadreamhousefornothing.blogspot.com.