Famous landmarks and events in York Street - past and present
St Philip's is the oldest Anglican Parish in Australia, together with the Parish of
Parramatta. In January 1788 eleven ships carrying around 1400 people, including 786 convicts,
arrived from England on the east coast of Australia to establish a penal colony. The Chaplain of the First
Fleet was the Rev Richard Johnson and he conducted the first Christian service in Australia on 3 February
The original church was built by orders of the colony's first chaplain, Rev Richard Johnson using Convict labour in
June 1793. The wattle and daub construction church was later burnt down by convicts in 1798. A second stone church
operated on the current site of Lang Park between 1810 to 1856 with the use of poor materials and gathered a
reputation as "The ugliest church in Christendom". This second church had a 150 feet high round clock
The current building on York Street is the third church building on Church Hill, and was designed by Edmund
Blacket. The church tower was styled after Magdalen Tower at Oxford, UK and was opened in 1856.
The following is a record of a meeting for the formation of Australian Football in Sydney Sydney
Mail – Saturday, 3 July 1880 . . FOOTBALL NOTES – by Leatherstocking (William J Hammersley)
I suppose that the meeting which took place on Wednesday evening (June 30th) to consider the propriety of adopting
the Victorian football rules has never been excelled in this colony in point of numbers and enthusiasm. At 8
o’clock there were fully 50 persons present; before the chairman took his seat the long room of the Freemasons’
Hotel (in York Street) was crowded, and in a very short time only standing room could be obtained. To put down the
number of footballers present at 100 is certainly not giving more than a fair estimate and even those who were
sanguine that the movement would be warmly taken up were not prepared for such marked success at the outset. .
York Street Synagogue. The Bridge Street was vacated in 1840 and services were held in rooms
over shops or dwellings owned by members of the congregation. Finally land was purchased in York Street, close to
where the Sydney Town Hall stands today, and a synagogue was designed by James Hume who had been associated with
some of Sydney's finest buildings. The foundation stone was laid in 1842 and funds were donated liberally by both
Jews and Christians.
Gentile interest in the project remained intense and the committee informed "all who may be desirous of visiting
this place of worship that the attendance of members of all creeds is welcomed by the Jewish religionists". The
building was consecrated on 2 April, 1844, with the music for the ceremony in the hands of Isaac Nathan, father of
Australian music, who was also associated with the music at St Mary's Cathedral. For the occasion Nathan composed
settings for Baruch Habba ("Blessed be he that cometh") and Halleluyah.
The AWA Tower was designed by architects Morrow and Gordon from 1937–1939 and
became one of the most notable commercial buildings of Sydney . It brought geometric Art Deco design and
modernism to the city skyline. The communications tower was an integral part of the structure and remained the
tallest structure in Sydney until the 1960s. The tower is 46 metres (151 ft) high atop a 55-metre (180 ft)
The tower (featuring the AWA logo) features in the science fiction film The Matrix; when Neo and Trinity rescue
Morpheus from the agents, the AWA Tower can be seen below as they make their escape by helicopter. Also designed by
Morrow and Gordon is the Grace Building during the late 1920s and opened in 1930 by Grace Brothers, the
Australian department store magnates, as their headquarters. "The building was designed to use the first two
storeys in the manner of a department store. The remaining storeys were intended to provide rental office
accommodation for importers and other firms engaged in the softgoods trade".