This photo is courtesy of State Records NSW. It shows the what was once the pride of Sydney called the Garden Palace which dominated the city’s skyline for 3 years in the late 1800s.
At a length of over two football fields it was located in a section of today’s Royal Botanical Gardens. It was larger than the QVB and stretched between the State Library and Conservatorium of Music.
The Garden Palace was built to host the Sydney International Exhibition in 1879. It was modelled off London’s Crystal Palace and built in only 8 months due to electric lighting from England allowing work to be done at night.
Construction cost ₤191,800. It had a long hall with lower aisles on each site. It also had a large dome in the centre which was 100 feet (30m) in diameter and 210 feet (65m) high. Directly under the dome was a large bronze statue of Queen Victoria.
The building was a grand structure, made predominantly of timber. This however contributed to its destruction by fire in 1882 in what is said to have been as horrifyingly grand as the building itself. It included rivers of lead, a volcano like scenario when the dome fell and the scary image of the Queen Victoria statue engulfed by flames. The building was destroyed in under an hour, with it’s cause remaining a mystery.
Since the building was used for government departments, many important documents were lost including squatters records and the 1881 Census records.
The only remains of the Garden Palace today being the sandstone gateposts and wrought iron gates at the Macquarie Street entrance to the Gardens. A fountain featuring a statue of Cupid is located at the former location of the dome.