Skyscraper City Forum banner
1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Oh ma Lordee, lookee here
Joined
·
1,734 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, in the Struggle Streets of Old Sydney thread, we covered conditions of life in a ring of inner suburbs from Wooloomooloo to Pyrmont, looked into backyards, up laneways, and over the notorious Frog Hollow. We went into the Central Police Station and perused police mug shots from the Roaring Twenties, and followed the swathe of slum clearance through the then Chinatown district of Surry Hills.

I want to go back now to the first great alarm to reach authorities over the Struggle Streets. The turn of a new century, and the outbreak of bubonic plague that was epidemic in inner Sydney from January to August 1900.

It happens that I have worked through an outbreak of theplague - in Surat, 'The filthiest City in India' in 1994. That epidemic, which followed an earthquake in a nearby Latur, had the added twist of being both bubonic (bacterial) and pneumonic (air-borne) - so you wore a face mask, and soaked your clothes in an anti-bacterial solution at the end of the day. It caused a mass exodus from the city, the closure of all international flights into India for some days, but in the end - with modern medicine - it claimed only around 60 lives. Plague, 'The Black Death' is actually still quite prevalent in many undeveloped areas of the world today.

Sydney's 1900 plague came with rats off the ships, afflicted 303 people, of whom 103 died. It spread through the whole ring of inner suburbs, and to other cities, including Melbourne, but nowhere near as severe as in Sydney. Stirred to action, the authorities would work on slum clearance programs for decades.



Rubbish burning. The city also employed 3000 rat catchers at the height of the epidemic, and 44,000 rats were disposed of in a special incinerator.





The following photographs from the NSW Government Records Office - mainly just street scenes -were commissioned to record the conditions that created the crisis as the government's Chief Medical Advisor Dr John Ashburton Thompson commenced an inquiry.

Reported cases were traced on large scale maps, and it became clear that the plague epidemic was following the rat migrations.

It started here on The Rocks, by the birthplace of the nation:


Cambridge and Gloucester Streets, looking south from the Argyle Cut:




Cambridge Street on August 12 1901, a year after the epidemic ended.



Cumberland Place - so trendy today - looking towards the Whalers Arms Hotel.




This place was called The Ragged School. It was on Harrington Street.



Backyards, between Cumberland Place and Gloucester




Rear of 25 Cumberland Street



Looking west from the Observatory




The Hero of Waterloo - now Australia's oldest extant hotel I think - looking down Windmill Street.




Corner of Gloucester and Cumberland Place - good music venues today



Trinity Church looking to the Argyle Cut



Gloucester Street looking north



Corner of Gloucester Street and Cumberland Place



Cumberland Street looking south



Argyle Street and Millers Road September 1901




Gloucester Street north of Essex



Family butcher, 175 Cumberland, 1901



Corner of Harrington and Globe Streets



EXTRAS: Rear of No2 Walton Place by John Degotardi. This is 1900, during the epidemic.



Long after it was all over - by the Argyle Cut, 1912. by Harold Cazneaux



and I guess that's about it, Bronte.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
12,897 Posts
can you imagine there are people who are still alive who knew Syney when it looked like these pics....can you imagine living through that much transformation !!!!! then I guess even I have to admit..I remember Melbourne with only two buildings around 20 stories around 1960, the ICI and CRA
 

·
Oh ma Lordee, lookee here
Joined
·
1,734 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 · (Edited)
can you imagine there are people who are still alive who knew Syney when it looked like these pics....can you imagine living through that much transformation !!!!! then I guess even I have to admit..I remember Melbourne with only two buildings around 20 stories around 1960, the ICI and CRA
Baron, the thing that has always struck me about this is that for such a young country, it is as if our cities were born instantly old! Someone here will have a more learned and better thought-through explanation, but it is almost as if Sydney was a seaport that went through a late Industrial Revolution - with all the effects that had on its working poor.

Take a look at tonight's posts on the other Struggle Street thread - the police mug-shuts and crime scenes. Look at the conditions inside the Central Police Station! Peeling walls, water running across all the floors - Dickensian doesn't even begin to describe it. And this was a police headquarters, a key government building. Also, poor's poor - but the Balmain murder scene there is 1959 - and look at the building.

Again, I'm reminded that English postwar immigrants quite frequently claimed both Melbourne and Sydney (built forms) were like Manchester or Birmingham: I don't necessarily agree, but you can see in in these pictures what they meant.

Well, for whatever charms Manchester possesses now, we have left those cities in the far distance, so far behind we can barely see them.

This is an early 2OthC picture off the wharves in Pyrmont.

 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top