Strolling around the main shopping area around the Pitt Street Mall you come across one of my favourite buildings in Sydney. It's the Queen Victoria Building or as it trendily known as the 'QVB'. The building itself is huge and incredibly ornate, it was built in 1898 during a time that Sydney was going through a Depression and so it was a source of employment for many craftsmen, stonemasons, etc. During its early life it went through many incarnations, originally it was built to house the market that had stood in that particular location. By the late 1950s though the building was derelict and there were calls for it to be demolished. Luckily it wasn't and it was restored to its original glory during the 1980s. It's just a lovely building to stroll around in, enjoy the ambiance do some window shopping, some real shopping if you have the income to be shopping at the Valentino or Versace store. (There's also some smaller, i.e. cheaper shops as well!)
Old style elevator and stairs!
A rather beautiful stained glass window over the George Street entrance
The front of the building with the statue of Queen Victoria
In the 1980s when the building was being restored the owners wanted a statue of Queen Victoria to grace the entrance so they began scouring former British colonies for an unwanted statue. Eventually this one was found in Ireland. It had been the last royal statue erected in Dublin and was unveiled in 1908. By 1948, with Ireland now an independent republic, the statue was no longer wanted so it was removed and placed into storage in a yard and there it remained as no other country wanted it! Fast forward to the QVB developers who wanted a statue of Queen Victoria and they managed to track this particular one down, the Irish government authorised that the statue be given to Australia 'on loan until recalled' (Don't think anyone's worried they'll ask for it back!) So the statue set sail for Australia, much to the apparent amusement of some Irish journalists when you consider how many convicts of Irish stock also set sail for Australia. (Queen Vic ended up being transported as well!) After 40 years languishing in a yard, the statue was placed in its new home in 1987 and there it remains.
A little aside before we move onto some other old buildings. When exiting the QVB onto George Street I saw that in the building across the road was a Kinokunya bookstore. Excitement plus on my part, not only a huge bookstore but also a Japanese one and therefore it sold Japanese stationery. Sugoi!
The State Theatre
This stunningly beautiful foyer belongs to the State Theatre, the foyer and the Box Office is completely open to the street in front of it. I was walking down Market Street and then literally was stopped in my tracks by this scene. Just gorgeous, a quick look at the internet produced pictures of the inside which are equally stunning.
The Strand Arcade
To be found in the Pitt Street Mall, another beautiful building constructed in the 1890's (1891 to be precise, the building proudly displays its construction date) and then like the QVB it went into decline until it too was threatened with being demolished. It was rescued in the 1970s, restoration commenced only for the building to be destroyed in a fire. It was then rebuilt and restored and another delightful shopping area to pass some time wandering around.
Soul Pattinson Chemist
Across from The Strand Arcade is the Soul Pattinson Chemist, I love the fact that it's still a chemist and there's been one on that site since 1886. (As European roll their eyes and think "That's not that long ago!" I squeal "It is for Australia!")