Macquarie street in Sydney would have to be one of the most impressive streets in Sydney. Reflecting not only
Sydney's past but its appreciation and respect for its changing architecture. Located in the easternmost street of
Sydney's CBD (Central Business District) the street ends a short distance from Australia's greatest icon, the
Sydney Opera House . It can be said that the street remains Sydney's main centre of ceremony, society and culture.
It was in 1792 that Governor Phillip proclaimed Macquarie Street and the open spaces of Hyde Park, Botanic Gardens
and Domain for Government use. The street was officially proclaimed by Governor Macquarie in 1810.
In the early years the street extended from Hyde Park to Bent Street but was later extended in both directions -
north to Bennelong Point (Opera House) and south through Hyde Park to Surry Hills. However in 1851 the Hyde Park
section was once again closed. The street was named in honour of Lachlan Macquarie the governor of New South Wales
(1810-1821) who was responsible for the construction of Sydney's first public buildings and was responsible for
setting the boundaries of Sydney's grid of streets.
The Mint is Sydney's oldest surviving public building. Originally built as
a hospital by convicts between 1811-1816. The Mint building is one of two surviving wings of the early General
Hospital building. The other "bookend" wing, which is found further down the street, is the Parliament House.
Built in 1816 the Mint building became known as the 'Rum Hospital' due to a negotiation Governor Macquarie
made with three shrewd businessmen to build the hospital, in exchange for a three years exclusive rum deal.
Though the architect is unknown the building reflects a typical barrack style and was presumably designed by
military engineers. The building features colonnaded timber verandah, Georgian panelled doors and shingled
The first hospital in Sydney was located at The Rocks and was little more
than a tent and mud hut. Many female convicts were recruited as nurses to help with the sick. Governor
Macquarie saw the urgent need for a suitable hospital and chose this current site. The original hospital (also
known as the Rum Hospital) included three building of which only the two wings (The Mint Building and
Parliament House) survived. The central building of the hospital was demolished in 1879 (due to poor
foundations) and replaced in 1894 by the present building. The Victorian Classical Revival building was
designed by Thomas Rowe.
St Stephens Church
Dwarfed between the high rises of Sydney is St Stephen's Church. The
Church was designed by architects Messrs John Reid and Finlay Munro Jr and constructed in 1935.
The location of the first St Stephen's church (which was an iron prefabricated church) was located where the new
wing of the State Library now stands.
An interesting point of note is the floodlights that light up the facade at night were donated in memory of
aspiring actress Marcia Hathaway who was killed by a shark in Middle Harbour in 1963.
The New South Wales Parliament House was once the northern wing of the
former "Rum Hospital". Built between 1811-16, the building was constructed by three businessmen in exchange
for an exclusive rum deal, organised by Governor Macquarie. Today it stands as one of the oldest public
buildings in Sydney. Historically the building is important for holding the two of the most important
conventions in Australian political history, which dealt with the issues of Federation and the drafting of the
The Wyoming building was one of the first 'high rises' of Macquarie Street. The brick and sandstone building was
constructed in 1909 and was designed by W.Burcham Clamp. The building was specifically designed to provide
professional medical suites for the growing number of practitioners associated with the Sydney Hospital. By the
late 1920's there were no less than 260 doctors and 100 dentists operating along Macquarie Street.
The Garden Palace
In 1879 architect James Barnet was given the job of designing and building a structure for the Sydney
International Exhibitions. Ten months later Sydney would marvel at the Garden Palace, the grandest building in
Australia. Three years later the people of Sydney would watch on helplessly as the palace was engulfed by fire. All
that remains of the Garden Palace today are the carved sandstone pillars and wrought iron gates at the entrance to
the Royal Botanical Gardens which were also designed by James Barnet in 1888. Click for more about the Garden
British Medical Association House
Looking like something out of Gotham City, the British Medical Association
building is one of the most unique structures on Macquarie Street.
Built in 1929 the gothic and art deco building was designed by architects Joseph Fowell and Kenneth McConnel and
features medical symbols on its facade. It is the only building in Sydney featuring Koala sculptures, but you have
to look up really high to spot them.
Hiding back a little from Macquarie Street this former gentlemen's residence was designed by George Mansfield.
This typical Italianate town house became a boarding house and then homes and rooms for medical practitioners until
1969 when it was acquired by the Royal Australian Historical Society.
Chief Secretary's Building
The Chief Secretary's Building was constructed between 1881 - 1896 and was the location of the Chief Secretary
and Public Works Department. Designed by architect James Barnet, the building was associated with some of the most
prominent figures in the political arena including Henry Parkes, John Robertson and Charles Cowper. The extensions
to the building were designed by Walter Liberty Vernon. The original building was constructed between 1873 and 1881
in Victorian Free Classical Style. Built from sandstone, the mansard and copper clad dome were added in 1894.