Monday, 20 February 2017

1989: Teething Problems at Darling Harbour

Setting up anything (in general) or building something will always create teething problems. Darling Harbour was no different. One year after its official opening in 1988, The Sunday Telegraph looked back at the first year of the Darling Harbour redevelopment.

Source: Broekhulise, P. 1989. "A Year On, and Nothing's Changed!". The Sunday Telegraph, May 7: Page Unknown. 

The headline does not reflect the true nature of the article in saying that nothing has changed in a year, particularly in its opening year. Maybe the headline might have worked the following year if they wanted to compare 1989-1990 with 1988-1989.

Despite concerns about the structures, overbudgeting and failure to get key facilities and attractions open in time, authorities had believed that it had become a hit with Sydneysiders.

Its biggest success happened to be after hours when crowds flocked in, but people were not keen on visiting during regular work hours. Transport access was a key issue (in fact still is today), and there no bus or ferry services serving the area at that point in time, though this would be remedied during the 1990s.

Attracting tourists was another key challenge and a marketing unit had to be set up to address this. You can only assume by the numbers of tourists visiting the area today, that it has been overcome. Locals like myself also step in through word of mouth and actually take visitors from elsewhere to visit. On normal weekdays, it may still feel quiet, but not as quiet as in the past. You do see some people making the 10-minute trek from the Sydney CBD to have their lunch at a cafe or restaurant.

Monorail patronage was identified as not meeting targets and not helped by the fact that some stations in the CBD were holes in the ground awaiting major construction.

One aspect that is not looked is the urban renewal of the Pyrmont Peninsula because Darling Harbour would act as a catalyst for the redevelopment of that part of the city. Darling Harbour would provide the open spaces, shopping, and dining that the residents would need.

And just over at Cockle Bay and the streets surrounding Darling Harbour to the east- they were undergoing significant changes as hotels, offices, and (later) apartments would be built, providing another source of people for the area. The western parts of central Sydney were only being discovered. Now its become the new downtown.

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