Monday, April 9, 2012

Sydney's Past: Martin Place and the Cenotaph


Corner George Street and Martin Place, c 1900.
General Post Office on the left, George being the main street shown.
(Click on the images to enlarge)

Martin Place, formerly known as Moore Street, is a pedestrian mall in the CBD of Sydney, New South Wales.  It was opened in 1891 and named in honour of Sir James Martin, three times Premier of NSW and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW between 1873-1886.  Martin Place is the heart of Sydney, being the home of the magnificent sandstone building that was formerly the General Post Office, the Reserve Bank, the Commonwealth Bank, Macquarie Bank, Seven Network’s Sydney news centre and various other corporations.

In the centre of Martin Place is the Cenotaph, a memorial to the war dead of Australia.  The word “cenotaph” means empty tomb, a monument in honour of a person or group of persons whose remains are elsewhere.  Completed in 1927 and dedicated in 1929, the Sydney Cenotaph bears the words ‘To Our Glorious Dead” on one side and “Lest We Forget” on the other.  Located on the site of the enlistment office at which the majority of NSW’s WW1 soldiers enlisted, it is the major focus of memorial services and remembrances in Australia.

Martin Place was closed to traffic in 1971.  I can recall cars driving through Martin Place and past the Cenotaph, located in the middle of the road.  In those days I was a cadet with the St John Ambulance Brigade, doing “duty” at the Anzac Day marches, football matches and so on.

Today Martin Place is a lengthy pedestrian mall between George and Macquarie Streets containing a water fountain, entertainment area, railway access and pedestrian seating. It is very popular at lunchtime, often crowded with office workers and bicycle couriers.

Some further pics:

Sir James Martin (1820-1886)

Moore Street being widened for conversion to Martin Place, 1891

Martin Place c 1900

Martin Place c 1900
GPO on the right.

Martin Place c 1915.
Construction underway of the Commonwealth Bank building

Martin Place, 1937

Martin Place
Working on tram tracks, 1953

Martin Place today.
The Cenotaph is located between the trees in the centre of the photograph

After the ceremony dedicating and unveiling the Cenotaph, 29 February 1929

Wreaths at the Cenotaph, Anzac Day 1930

The Cenotaph today.

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