1951–1980: Modernity

As Australia began a modern development boom following the Second World War, Walsh Bay’s wharves became gradually obsolete. They could still host some passenger ships but not giant modern container ships or cruise ships—and aeroplanes became the preferred (and gradually more affordable) mode of international travel and goods freight from the 1960s onwards. The NSW Government minimised its building maintenance program and eventually locked up all the wharves and warehouses.

In April 1959, the City of Sydney council’s engineering department proposed a redevelopment plan for the entire headland of The Rocks and Millers Point. Although the land was mainly owned by the NSW government, the council responded to new thrusts for tall blocks of flats and offices, following its 1957-58 raising of the city’s 150-foot building height limit. The city council plan suggested 3-10 storey blocks of flats and multi-storey ‘business centres’ along Pottinger, Kent and High Streets. These developments would have required demolition of colonial and Edwardian terrace houses that were originally built for dockworkers.

New office buildings and 3-10 storey blocks of flats (shown red) were planned by City of Sydney engineers in April 1959.