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A photograph taken in 1900 of Cumberland Street in The Rocks, Australia’s oldest European settlement.
Photographs documented the plague-clearing operations, such as rubbish removal, and buildings to be demolished. They were Government-commissioned to guard against litigation and this was just one taken by John Degotardi in 1900.
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Less than ten years after Long painted this, entire streets, including Clyde, were destroyed as Hickson Road, as it is now known, was built out of the sandstone cliffs.
The image and other paintings from the era are part of an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney.
World War I, the Great Depression and World War II slowed or prevented much of the proposed redevelopment of The Rocks. Change resumed with the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge in the 1920s and 1930s. Building the southern approach to the bridge led to the demolition of 280 houses along Princes Street.
8 January 1941. This image reflects the large-scale demolition works occurring during the early twentieth century, to prepare for regeneration plans of the area after the bubonic plage scare. Australia’s oldest Eurpean settlement, The Rocks had a tumultuous history.
This image was taken during cleansing operations, quarantine area. In line with the public health effort to contain the plague, the other cause to remedy was the removal of rats. Local men were employed to catch them for six pence each, and transport them to Darling Harbour’s incinerator (depicted). Councils also encouraged locals to help, with a bounty fee of two shillings.
As bubonic plague broke out in Sydney in January 1900, there was fear The Rocks would be severely affected due to much of it being unsanitary. Cleansing operations began with the City Council in February 1900, but were later taken over by the State Government. Kent Street, depicted here, was one of many regularly quarantined and washed down with lime wash.
Originally formed in the 1830s, Clyde Street, The Rocks, was one of several streets that ran down to the wharves. This spelled its end, however, as there was a need to construct ‘a broad roadway’ between the Darling Harbour and Circular Quay shipyards.
Cumberland Street once featured the stone cottages and mansions of prominent Sydneysiders and sea captains. Historians of the early 1900’s recalled these ‘men who left a mark’, as the houses were demolished to allow straightening of the road by 1911.
This painting and others from the era are part of an exhibition at the Museum of Sydney.
The painting and photograph (previous image) show the biased and contrasting views of artists and government. The 1902 painting, by Julian Ashton, shows a romantic view of The Rocks and Millers Point with symbols of progress, such as shop advertisements and telegraph poles, left out.
This photograph from September 1901 depicts Argyle Street in The Rocks. The images highlights the most dilapidated buildings and filthy laneways, to support the Government’s case for redevelopment.
Home News Gallery: The plague in historical Sydney
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