A streetscape can often be overlooked as we pass them day to day. However, photographs of past streetscapes can be fascinating as it reflects the community and presents a snapshot in time. It can offer the viewer information on various aspects of community; its buildings, roads, landscape features, and how a particular space is utilised.
The Snapshot exhibition Streetscapes features selected photographs from the Georges River Libraries Local Studies collection and highlights local scenes from the past and the present, offering detail on how spaces have changed over time. One key selection of images highlights the evolution of Memorial Square on Forest Road, Hurstville.
Memorial Square was unveiled in 1922 as a memorial to honour the people who served in the First World War. It went on to also function as a taxi rank in the 1920s, connecting passengers to and from the train station.
Michael Keating obtained one of the first motor taxi licences for the Hurstville rank in 1922. He maintained his original taxi plate, T043, until he retired in 1969. In the picture, [below] the War Memorial seems slightly hidden, surrounded by many vehicles.
Railway Square, Hurstville, c. 1926. Georges River Libraries Local Studies collection.
By 1927, the area around the War Memorial developed into a greener spot, with the installation of garden plots including palm trees. Prior to that, around 4,000 residents protested against a suggested transfer of the Memorial to the centre of the roadway near the Strand Theatre, further up the road. Mayor Binder had proposed this to raise the profile of the Memorial, as it was rather hidden behind the taxis and buses in front of the railway station.
Forest Road, Hurstville, c. 1949. Georges River Libraries Local Studies collection.
The image below depicts Memorial Square in the mid-1990s. Again, parked cars surround the Memorial. The palm trees were relocated as part of the Forest Road Transit Mall project undertaken by Hurstville City Council in 1990 and 1991.
The initial idea to close Forest Road completely for traffic, and to transform the space into a boulevard with a piazza style mall, failed as too many business owners objected. Instead, Forest Road became a one way thoroughfare.
Memorial Square, Forest Road Hurstville NSW, c. 1995. Georges River Libraries Local Studies collection.
The layout and uses of Memorial Square has changed over time, reflecting the ever changing streetscape of Forest Road, as well as the changing needs of Hurstville community. The last major redevelopment was in 2002 and the Sailors’ and Soldiers Memorial, has continued to remain the centrepiece.
To view the intricate detail of these photographs, along with additional photographs of streetscapes of not just Hurstville but of surrounding suburbs, visit Streetscapes before it closes on 24 November 2019.
‘Hurstville Memorial Square’, Arterra, https://arterra.com.au/ArterraWeb/Hurstville_Memorial_Square.html
‘Streetscape’, Your Home, http://www.yourhome.gov.au/housing/streetscape
‘Streetscapes’, The Photographic Angle, https://www.thephotographicangle.co.uk/gallery/streetscapes/
‘Sydney culture of place: Streetscapes’, HSIE Teachers, http://www.hsieteachers.com/home/sydney-culture-of-place-streetscapes