Monday, 19 June 2017

1970: The birth of Martin Place as a Pedestrian Mall

Martin Place. Photo taken by the Author (2014).
Martin Place is Sydney's most loved pedestrian mall which expands the entire stretch of the street. Achieving this feat was not an overnight process, but took time.

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Source: Anonmonyous. 1970. "The Big Takeover of Martin Place". The Sydney Morning Herald, September 1, 1. 

On September 1 1970, Martin Place between George Street and Pitt Street was closed to vehicular traffic for a four month trial to determine whether or not it should become a Pedestrian Mall - Martin Plaza. It was officially opened by Lord Mayor - Alderman Emmet McDermott



Source:  Dunn, M. 1970. "Let the Sun Shine In, Said the Lord Mayor...but raindrops kept falling." The Sydney Morning Herald, September 1, 9.

Fast forward to September 1, 1971 and Martin Plaza becomes a reality with the first stretch closed off to traffic permanently. In fact it took just weeks in 1970 for calls for it to become reality as the editorial from The Daily Telegraph from October 29, 1970 (below) shows. Even the State Government was coming on side.

Martin Place October 20 1970 daily telegraph 2

In 1972, Sydney City Council announced that it would convert over three years, the remainder of Martin Place into a Pedestrian Mall. In Stage 2 between Pitt Street and Castlereagh Street, there would be a sunken recreation area along with a cafe precinct. Construction began in late 1973. This was opened to the public on July 22, 1976.

The remainder of the conversion was timed to coincide with the completion of construction of Martin Place Railway Station, built as part of the Eastern Suburbs Railway Line. Those areas were opened to the public on May 7, 1979.