Sydney Architecture Images- Darling Harbour and Barangaroo Architecture


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  Previously named Cockle Bay (pre-1826) due to the large heaps of mussel shells (aboriginal middens) there.
Pre-settlement- important food source for local aboriginals
Used for burning shells for lime for making mortar
Factories, wharves, warehouses. Gasworks, shipbuilding, galvanising plant. Technology centre.
Wheat, wool, coal and timber were the principal cargoes to pass across the wharves.
1870s wool became the prime commodity
1855 the railway line that ran from the old Central Station was built.
A major railway goods yard was established on the Ultimo side of the harbour in the 1870s.
1861, the world's first freezing works.
1890s there was a shift from small-scale industry to warehousing and woolstores and by 1900, dozens of wharves had been built at Darling Harbour.
1900, the NSW Government resumed Darling Harbour.
1902 Pyrmont Bridge opened.
1945 coastal shipping trade had disappeared.
1960s, a large concrete apron was built at East Darling Harbour over the wharves for Containerisation.
1984 the last goods train
1984-88  redevelop Darling Harbour for the Bicentennial Celebrations.
1998-2000 Cockle Bay Wharf and King Street Wharf were constructed
2003, the State Government announced that the stevedoring wharves at East Darling Harbour would be transformed into a new urban precinct.
2007 Barangaroo Concept Plan was approved. The work was awarded to Lend Lease.
Above- DH in 1870.
Above- looking across Pyrmont Bridge to the city in 1870 and today.
Above- East Darling Harbour in 1940 and in 2005.
Above- during Barangaroo construction, 2014.


Above- the Lend Lease scheme currently under construction.
Above- views of DH over the city, 1980.
Above- Great 1972 photo showing construction of the viaducts and the old industrial foreshore of Darling Harbour.
Above- Ground level view on opening morning, May 1980 and the same location today. The contrast is amazing (the noise).
It really was like travelling into the future in science fiction. Multiple bridges over, throngs of people, the cross-city tunnel below. Virtually all the buildings replaced.
Above- a sea of columns. Easterly view in June 1980 across Darling Harbour (left), showing the first stage of the Western Distributor open to traffic.
Above- View of the viaducts between Pyrmont and the City snaking their way across Darling Harbour in 1981 and today.
Above- This shows the double decked section of the Western Distributor from Sussex St that never really lived up to its true calling in 2003 and 2015.
Above- Looking north over the Harbour St on-ramps in 1983 and today.
Long Cove to Cockle Bay

In the early years of the colony, the only European visitors to the shores of Darling Harbour were the lime-burners and hungry convicts and settlers searching for mussels and other shellfish.

The first deputy surveyor-general of New South Wales, Charles Grimes, completed a Plan of Sydney in 1800 that accurately depicts the eastern shoreline. Poorly fired bricks and a lack of lime for mortar hampered early building in the colony. The massive middens of shellfish shells in Cockle Bay were the perfect source for lime. Darling Harbour was first named Long Cove but Cockle Bay was preferred until 1826 when Governor Ralph Darling enshrined his own name in Sydney’s history.

Maritime and industrial development

The history of the harbour has been embodied in the ships which used it, the shipyards and wharves along its shores and the myriad of factories and warehouses that grew up in the surrounding streets. The Market Street Wharf (where Sydney Aquarium now stands) was built in the 1820s and is the only remaining wharf from this era.

In the 19th century the harbour was a centre for change, and particularly for the introduction of Industrial Revolution technology. It was here that the first steam engine in Australia started work in 1815, the first iron-hulled ship was assembled and the colony’s first foundries belched smoke along its shores, as did the first steamship to be launched. Other important firsts were the Australian Gas Light Company’s gasworks, fired up on Queen Victoria’s birthday in 1841, and, in the next decade, Zollner’s galvanising plant, an important innovation in a country that was to find more ways to use galvanised iron than any other.

For much of the nineteenth century, wheat, wool, coal and timber were the principal cargoes to pass across the wharves but from the 1870s wool became the prime commodity. In 1855 the railway line that ran from the old Central Station was built as part of the first line in New South Wales. A major railway goods yard was established on the Ultimo side of the harbour in the 1870s. In 1874, the world's first full iron wharf was built where Tumbalong Park now stands. The Iron Wharf was considered one of the great engineering feats of the time and was the largest steel structure in the world until the construction of the Eiffel Tower.

In 1861, the world's first freezing works were built by Thomas Mort after the process was developed by ED Nicolle. Thomas Mort's Fresh Food & Ice Company was established on the site of today's Chinese Garden of Friendship and the company shipped its first successful cargo of frozen meat to London in 1877.

In the 1880s the first Hydraulic Pumping Station in New South Wales opened; remnants of it still stand as part of a hotel. Around the turn of the century the Ultimo Power Station supplied electricity for Sydney’s first electric trams and its neighbour in Pyrmont supplied power to Sydney households through the first reticulated grid.

By the 1890s there was a shift from small-scale industry to warehousing and woolstores and by 1900, dozens of wharves had been built at Darling Harbour. The rail yards continued to grow and by 1891 they were handling most of Australia’s export produce. In 1900, the NSW Government resumed Darling Harbour. The area continued to thrive as coastal steamers plied their trade along Australia's coast and across the Pacific.

Pyrmont Bridge opened in 1902, replacing a smaller bridge built in 1857, to maintain the link between the CBD, Pyrmont and Glebe. The swingspan bridge is powered by electricity, originally supplied from the nearby Ultimo Powerhouse (now the Powerhouse Museum), and remains the oldest electrically powered swingspan bridge still operating in the world.

The First World War stimulated growth but also led to the General Strike in 1917. The Great Depression of the 1930s affected Darling Harbour in much the same way as it affected ageing industrial centres around the world. It hit the casual labourers on the wharves particularly hard and the streets where they queued for the chance of a few hours of backbreaking work became known as the Hungry Mile.

The Second World War stimulated trade and industry but by the time it ended the coastal shipping trade had disappeared and many industries around the harbour were decaying. This process continued after the war and, although the rail yards continued their growth for a few years, in 1984 the last goods train steamed out of the yards and the industrial history of Darling Harbour all but ended.

The rebirth of Darling Harbour, 1980s onwards

In 1984 the premier of NSW, Neville Wran, announced the Government's decision to redevelop Darling Harbour and "return it to the people of Sydney" in time for Australia’s 1988 bicentennial celebrations.

HRH Queen Elizabeth II formally opened Darling Harbour on 4 May 1988. Sydney Aquarium was the first attraction to open and was soon followed by a host of museums, shops, restaurants, hotels and bars, as the precinct became a different kind of heartbeat for Sydney.

In 1998, as Darling Harbour celebrated its 10th birthday, Cockle Bay Wharf was constructed. The following year massive works were undertaken in preparation for the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games.

In 2000, Darling Harbour hosted five sports during the Olympic Games and construction of King Street Wharf was completed.

In 2009, Darling Harbour celebrated its 21st anniversary with a year of activities including a multicultural birthday festival and the publication of a commemorative book, A History of Sydney's Darling Harbour.

Western Distributor


Construction of the Western Distributor during the 1980s
The Western Distributor came to be out of the realization in the early 1960s that the existing roads that supported the Harbour Bridge would not cope with contemporary and projected traffic volumes. Due to existing infrastructure and buildings in the area, it was decided to build a viaduct to carry traffic above the city streets. The Western Distributor was opened in stages starting in September 1972, with the last stage being the Anzac Bridge which was opened in December 1995. The distributor also replaces the former congested route out of the city via the Pyrmont Bridge (closed in 1988) and the Glebe Island Bridge (closed in 1995 with the opening of Anzac bridge).

Abandoned section
Underneath the Western Distributor at its northern end, between Sussex and Kent streets there is an abandoned carriageway underneath the main roadway. It is a short section of elevated freeway; the top tier remains in constant use but the lower is suspended in the air; having been severed at each end.


In 1900 the NSW Government elected to seize control of the area to rebuild the wharves and shipping infrastructure for the new century of trade. The government's Sydney Harbour Trust dramatically cut the landscape to create Hickson Road and lined East Darling Harbour with long wharves and shore shed buildings - examples of which can still be seen at Walsh Bay. Working Port

During the Great Depression, Hickson Road came to be known as "The Hungry Mile" from the men who went from wharf to wharf in search of work.

Containerisation of shipping created perhaps the most dramatic modification of the wharves when, in the 1960s, a large concrete apron built for this new method of shipping demolished almost the entire previous built environment. It is this same concrete apron which defines the site today.

Changes to shipping technology and the inability to create heavy freight rail access to the site made it unsustainable a Modern ports a modern stevedoring port facility for the late 20th and early 21st century.

In 2003, the State Government announced that the stevedoring wharves at East Darling Harbour would be transformed into a new urban precinct.

An international urban design competition was held in 2005, attracting 139 entries from around the world. The winning design by Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects, Paul Berkemeier Architects and Jane Irwin Landscape Architecture was announced in March 2006 together with a naming competition for the new precinct.

The Barangaroo Concept Plan was approved in February 2007 and covers urban design and policy initiatives and is the statutory master planning instrument, to guide the urban renewal of Barangaroo. In 2008, the Concept Plan was amended to increase the floor space and in 2009 was further amended to refine Barangaroo Reserve & Northern Cove. In 2010, it was amended to include a hotel on a pier, additional height and additional floorspace.

New Works 2015- Darling Harbour Live’s SICEEP project

The construction of the new conference and convention facilities designed by architects Hassell and Populous, being the International Convention Centre, Exhibition Centre and The Theatre, as well as substantial public domain upgrades to Tumbalong Park and surrounds.

The new facilities, which are expected to be completed in late 2016, will ensure that Sydney remains competitive as an international destination for business tourism. The approved Tumbalong Park upgrades, the creation of a new boulevard linking Cockle Bay to The Haymarket, and a new mixed use precinct on the Sydney Entertainment Centre site, will revitalise the Darling Harbour precinct and encourage greater community use of this space.