Good Reads

Here are some great books related to Sydney’s history which may interested you.

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Publication
Description

The 125 year story of one of the worlds greatest urban parks. Centennial Park, in the heart of Sydney, opened in 1888 to mark the centenary of colonisation. It has been the stage for celebration of Federation and many other national milestones.This book begins in the earliest days of settlement, recounting the wild origins of the vast area that is now verdant parkland. It reviews the fanfare, the controversies and scandals, the design and landscaping, flora and fauna, and fun and games that have always been part of life in the Park.

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The history of one of Australia's most iconic urban precincts, from bustling colonial thoroughfare to imposing address for global corporations and gathering place for civic events. Martin Place is one of Sydney's iconic urban places. Since the 1890s it has fulfilled a vital role as a significant public space at the centre of Australia's most populous city; in the heart of the central business district, its powerful corporate presence now defines a globally connected city.

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Garry Wotherspoon’s Gay Sydney: A history is an updated version of his 1991 classic, City of the Plain: History of a Gay Sub-culture, written in the midst of the AIDS crisis. In this vivid book Wotherspoon traces the shifts that have occurred since then, including majority support for marriage equality and anti-discrimination legislation. He also ponders the parallel evaporation of a distinctly gay sensibility and the disappearance of once-packed gay bars that have now become cafes and gyms.

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Sydney is graced with natural beauty - a waterscape of beaches, rivers, bays and harbours. This revised and updated, beautifully photographed volume captures the evolution of the city in its remarkable setting through the last century, highlighting both the dramatic growth and the resolute consistency of landmark locations. Many of the "then" images were photographed at the turn of the 20th century, when Sydney overtook Melbourne as Australia's most populated city. The photos of today's Sydney are a continuation of that story - a city still booming, the foundations still there, but now congested with skyscrapers and transport connections.

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The legend of Kate Leigh, Sydney’s famed brothel madam, sly grog seller and drug dealer, has loomed large in TV’s Underbelly and every other account of Sydney’s criminal history from the 1920s to the 1960s. But she has never had a biography of her own. Despite having more than 100 criminal convictions to her name, Kate Leigh is also remembered as a local hero, giving money to needy families and supporting her local community through the hard times of Depression and war. Here, novelist and historian Leigh Straw teases out the full story of how this wayward Reformatory girl from Dubbo made a fortune in eastern Sydney and defied the gender stereotyping of the time to become a leading underworld figure.

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This is the garden that gave the world the Wollemi Pine—previously known only from 40,000 year old fossils. The garden that brought to Australia the worlds biggest, stinkiest flower—the penis-shaped Giant Stinking Arum. The Gardens chequered history, together with the parties, celebrations, sports and shenanigans it hosted are covered in chapters by impressive contributors. Readers meet a distinguished line of colourful characters, beginning with Sir Joseph Banks, and encounter the art and literature that the Botanic Gardens have inspired.

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With its intake of English criminals in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, Sydney had a ready-made criminal class in operation. From the Razor Gang Wars of the 1920s and 1930s through to the rise of the East Coast Milieu in the 1970s and the intense rivalry between outlaw motorcycle gangs in the 1980s. Gangland Sydney puts Sydney’s criminal past under the microscope. Also under examination is Sydney’s notorious crime hotspot Kings Cross, as well as the role the New South Wales police force has played in both helping and hindering the growth of Sydney’s criminal empires.

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Despite its bustling urban presence, Sydney has a rich and complex Aboriginal heritage. Hidden within its burgeoning city landscape, lie layers of a vibrant culture and a turbulent history. But, you need to know where to look. Aboriginal Sydney supplies the information. The popular first edition established itself as both authoritative and informative; it is both a guide book and an alternative social history, told through precincts of significance to the city’s Indigenous people. The sites within the precincts, and their accompanying stories and photographs, evoke Sydney’s ancient past, and allow us all to celebrate the living Aboriginal culture of today.

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Building Sydney's History takes fifty of Sydney's most notable buildings and structures and tells the stories of how, when and why they were built, and includes stories of what has happened in and to them since construction. The collection also serves to present a wonderful new perspective on Sydney's history: how and why the city physically developed the way it did. Richly illustrated in full contemporary colour and historic black and white photography, this is a book that every Sydney household will want to own.

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