Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Unvaulted - a panoramic skyline


In 1873 an unnamed photographer made the perilous ascent to the top of the clock tower on Sydney Town Hall. The clock face was still to be put in place, and he and two others climbed up steps and a series of ladders until they were 190 feet above George Street. The objective was to take a photograph between each of the columns of the finial - ten in all.


In 2007, photographer Peter Murphy made the same climb, and duplicated the original ten images. In his studio, he digitally stitched together the original ten images to form a panorama. He did the same with his recent ten images. Then he lined them up to enable those interested to make a direction comparison of their city 134 years apart.


Each of these stitched images is on display in the renovated Lower Ground Floor of the Town Hall until next Monday.

Murphy has also animated the original set of images and they are displayed on the wall in an never-ending loop, as well as on a computer where the viewer can forward and backward 'til their heart's content.

I have seen the Panorama Mesdag in The Hague. Our panorama falls a bit short. Mesdag was set apart in its own room and was 360 degrees with sound effects. However, I still found this panorama engrossing as it is of a city that I know intimately.

I could only find nine of the ten originals on the City of Sydney data-base.

Top Left - looking north down George St with the old markets in the foreground not the QVB
Top Centre - looking across North Hyde Park to the spire of St James
Top Right - looking east along Park Street through the centre of Hyde Park

Middle Left - looking across South Hyde Park
Middle Centre - looking south down George St with St Andrews in the fore-ground
Middle Right - looking across St Andrews to Broadway and a very distant Sydney University

Bottom Left - looking to the head of Darling Harbour
Bottom Centre - looking across the centre of Darling Harbour with Pyrmont Bridge on the RHS
Bottom Right - looking across the beginning of the Parramatta River with Millers Point on the RHS
The missing image is the tenth one which is looking north down York Street.

23 comments:

Mary Ann said...

I love how you've presented these images here; local history, the present and the past in photos. You do this kind of post so well.

Lois said...

How fascinating! I could probably stare at that for hours.

Clytie said...

I agree with Lois - fascinating. I also could look at these for hours. Both the old and the new.

elastamom.com said...

Very cool! thanks for stopping by on Sunday!

Dave said...

Very interesting photos and informative post.

Tulsa Gentleman said...

Then and now photo sets like this are always fascinating. In looking at it I am handicapped by the fact that I don't know Sydney Is there anything that appears in both pictures?

Julie said...

Bill, astoundingly FEW things appear in both sets of images. I guess I spent about an hour looking at the old set. St Andrews Cathedral is in the old set. St James is still standing but is hidden from view in the new set. Hyde Park is still standing but hidden from view. Although the finial is 190 from the roadway, that is not very high nowadays. The main things that are still the same are the roadways. This is what oriented me.

biebkriebels said...

Nice story about these pictures.
Great you've been at the Panorama Mesdag in the Hague. Love your post.

Julie said...

Oops ... The Hague ... and I said Utrecht in my post. Thank you. I shall fix immediately.

Rinkly Rimes said...

Just what I enjoy....something entertaining and educational at the same time. And how you love your city!

Bill said...

I admire those early photo pioneers who had to cart those huge cameras and tripods and a bunch of plates then spend hours in a darkroom. But we are now able after all these years to admire the photos they produced.

biebkriebels said...

Thanks for your nice answer, I have been in Australia once and I love to read about it and to see pictures about the beautiful country.

Yolanda said...

What a fascinating project! Must be so much fun to get lost in that exhibit!

Birdman said...

Nice work, Julie. Love your text too.

Emma Dalloway said...

This is a fantastic site - youve captured a feel of Sydney so well.

Im currently studying the old trams that used to run up Anzac Parade as part of my university studies in Urban Design. Your series under 'Tramways' made a good read.

Cheers,
Emma Dalloway (a like minded flaneuse)

J Bar said...

This is very interesting. I should check it out.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Julie said...

Thanks, Emma. I have read llots of your haiku.

Jim, do check it out. There is so much down there of interest over and above the building itself. I am going back today to see if I can convince the security guards that by lying on the floor taking photos pointing upwards, I am not a risk to the good folk of my fair city!

Ann said...

How did I manage to miss that top room - tired, I guess. I ended up there at the end of a long day. Must do my own post on this before long.

Not sure about the March. I've been out every weekend lately so feel I need a rest. I see how I feel on Sunday. Wanted to go to the dawn service in the local park (which is usually held the weekend before) but I didn't hear the music this year so I'm not sure if they even held it, I guess in a predominantly Lebanese area there aren't many vets left.

Here's one for next year - Ironfest in Lithgow is held over the long weekend - looks fascinating.

Woody said...

What a fascinating story!

Bruce Caspersonn said...

Those old fellars, in 1873, were very enterprising and should be given a "well done",,,as should you.

Peter said...

What a great idea, great research - as usual.

Magpie said...

What a unique idea...I love that they did that so many years ago and that someone applied our current technology to enhance our experience. Way cool!

Joan Elizabeth said...

I am going to be in town on Thursday afternoon. Might see if I can mosey along to Town Hall.