Sydney’s Condemnation and Demolition Books: A talk by Laila Ellmoos, City Historian

A sepia photograph of a cottage in Francis Street, Darlinghurst. A woman and two children stand by the verandah.

Cottage in Francis Street, Darlinghurst, c.1909 (City of Sydney Archives).

In this talk for the City of Sydney Historical Association, City Historian Laila Ellmoos will talk about the history of the City of Sydney’s Condemnation and Demolition Books, a key photographic collection held in the City Archives comprising almost 5,000 photographs and associated glass plate negatives.

The City Building Surveyor’s department used photographs to document the city’s profound transformation in the first two decades of the 20th century. These photographs inadvertently captured the largely working-class neighbourhoods and people being displaced by commercial and government redevelopment.

The Demolition Books collection formed the basis of an exhibition at Customs House called Developing Sydney: Capturing Change 1900–1920. The exhibition, which was on display for two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, is available as a virtual exhibition and as a story map. The City Archives is working to digitise the collection and make it available for researchers and casual browsers.

When: Saturday, 11 May 2024 at 2 pm.
Where: Henry Carmichael Theatre, Sydney Mechanics’ School of Arts, 280 Pitt St.
Admission: Members $5. Visitors $10.

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