|Near the intersection of Bridge & Pitt Streets|
During the 1860s the Tank Stream, on which Sydney was founded, disappeared beneath the streets and buildings of the burgeoning city. Today, its course is traced by sculptures on the footpaths, named laneways and an annual day of exploration for those lucky enough to have their name drawn out of the heavily subscribed ballot.
|This diagram stands adjacent to the access point for the annual explorations at the base of Australia Square|
Where Bridge Street stands today was the delta of the Tank Stream as it widened into Sydney Cove. Bridge Street was crossed by a makeshift log bridge which tumbled down quickly being replaced by a stone version in 1804. The stream was so polluted by sewage and dead animals by the 1820s that fresh water had to be sourced from elsewhere. Over the first century of settlement the muddy delta flats area was reclaimed and built upon and today houses much of the financial heart of the city.
|Frederick Garling's 1842 watercolour in the Mitchell Library|
In the above painting, the large house on the right occupied pride of place in Macquarie Place, with the fence indicating Pitt Way which today is Pitt Street. The stone bridge is hard to make out, but the fouling of the stream is quite obvious.
Tomorrow, I will take you down into the bowels of the GPO in Martin Place to see some of the stone culvert into which the Tank Stream was encased and through which it still trickles its way from the original swamp where the Pitt Street mall now stands, down into Sydney Cove at Circular Quay West.
|Looking down Bridge Street to the east. The Tank Stream runs beneath the very low point (from right to left) just this side of Pitt Street at the lights, and this side of Macquarie Place|