Martin Place in Sydney
Martin Place, formerly known as Moore Street, is a pedestrian mall in the central business district of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. Home to the Reserve Bank of Australia, the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Macquarie Bank and other corporations, Martin Place is synonymous with corporate Australia. The Sydney GPO and the Seven Network's Sydney news centre are also located on Martin Place. Martin Place has become a national Australian icon in popular culture for attracting high-end film and television productions and actors to the area. Martin Place runs between George Street and Macquarie Street, and provides entrances to the Martin Place railway station below street level. Other cross streets include Pitt Street, Castlereagh Street, Elizabeth Street and Phillip Street.
Martin Place was opened in 1891 and was named in honour of Sir James Martin, the three time Premier of New South Wales and Chief Justice of Supreme Court of New South Wales. Closed to traffic in 1971, Martin Place is surrounded by many heritage buildings and features the 1927 World War I ANZAC Cenotaph, water fountain, entertainment area, railway access and pedestrian seating. It is very popular at lunchtime, often crowded with office workers and bicycle couriers.
Martin Place has a large collection of buildings of various styles, from neo-classical to contemporary. Notable buildings include the following.
The Sydney General Post Office (No. 1 Martin Place) is located at the western end of Martin Place, between George and Pitt Streets. Designed by colonial architect James Barnet, the building was constructed in stages from 1866 to 1891. Barnet's building features a neo-classical sandstone facade, with a colonnade running around the building at street level. Above the centre of the 100-metre Martin Place facade is the clocktower. This building was the headquarters of the NSW postal system until 1996, when it was sold and refurbished. The building now contains shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars. The Westin hotel and Macquarie Bank office towers stand in the former courtyard, now converted into an atrium. Australia Post maintains a presence in the form of a "Post Shop" at the corner of Martin Place and George Street.
Bank of Australasia Building (No. 2 Martin Place) is a Romanesque building standing on the corner of George Street and Martin Place. The Bank of Australasia merged into ANZ in 1951. The building has recently been refurbished and will now house retail space.
Challis House (No. 4 Martin Place) stands on land bought in 1906 for £500 per square foot by the University of Sydney from University endowment funds. The building was designed by W. L. Vernon, Government Architect and Robertson and Marks, Architects, and completed in 1907. The building was named Challis House after John Henry Challis, who in 1880 had bequeathed his estate valued at £276,000 (over $30 million in 2011) to the University. This art deco building is adorned with the Sydney University crest above the door, and forms one of the most important parts of the University's property portfolio. In 2002, the university entered a 99-year lease of the property.
Commonwealth Bank building (No. 5 Martin Place) is on the corner of Martin Place and Pitt Street. Built in 1916, this 12-storey building was the first, large-scale all steel-framed "skyscraper" in Australia. It was built to be the headquarters of the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, which served at the time as the Australian central bank.
The MLC Centre (No. 9 Martin Place) sits mainly upon the site of the Australia Hotel, demolished to make way for this 228-metre, reinforced concrete skyscraper, designed by Harry Seidler. The building is a modernist, octagonal column. At the time of its opening in (1977) it was the tallest reinforced concrete office building in the world, and was the tallest building outside North America. Construction of the building was controversial because it caused the demolition of several historic landmark buildings. Tenants include the Consulate of the United States of America.
The Henry Davis York building (No. 38-46 Martin Place) is an 11-storey art-deco building on the corner of Castlereagh Street and Martin Place. It was the former headquarters of MLC, a large finance company taken over by the National Australia Bank in 2000. Its current principal tenant is law firm Henry Davis York. The large, red, carved letters "MLC" are still visible on the clocktower, although a clock is currently missing.
The State Savings Bank building (No. 48 Martin Place), now also owned by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, has a distinctive terracotta and pink granite Beaux-Arts façade. It was built as the headquarters of the Government Savings Bank of NSW and opened in 1928. The interior features large scagliola columns, extensive use of marble, and a plaster and pressed metal ceiling. The building's square trading hall was originally one of the largest in the world. A stately vault is housed in the basement.
The Australian Provincial Assurance building (No. 53-63 Martin Place) (formerly Overseas Union Bank) is a 14-storey art-deco building on the corner of Elizabeth Street and Martin Place. One of its current tenants is the Lindt concept store and café.
The Colonial Building was the headquarters of the NSW State Bank, which was taken over by Colonial 1996 to form the Colonial State Bank, which itself was taken over in 2000 by the Commonwealth Bank of Australia. This 1986 post-modern building with its dark glass facade features a 36-storey tower atop a 2-storey atrium. The former banking chamber now contains the Sydney newsdesk of the Seven Television Network's Seven News. An ad-hoc "live audience" stands on the street outside the windows every morning for two of the station's breakfast programs, Sunrise and Weekend Sunrise and mid-morning program The Morning Show.
The Reserve Bank of Australia building is located between Phillip and Macquarie Streets. It houses the headquarters of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Australia's central bank, including a money museum.
Buildings adjacent to Martin Place include:
- At the Macquarie Street end, the Sydney Hospital.
- At the George Street end, the Westpac building, and Burberry store (former headquarters of the Commercial Banking Company of Australia, merged into National Australia Bank).
- On Elizabeth Street, the Sun Building was formerly the headquarters of the Sun, an afternoon that ceased publication in the 1980s. This skyscraper Gothic building is one of only three buildings in Sydney in this style. Further down the road, is the renowned law firm, Atanaskovic Hartnell's building, Atanaskovic Hartnell house.
- On George Street, Société Générale House is American Romanesque in style, and originally housed the Equitable Life Assurance Society of America.
Other features of Martin Place include:
- The Cenotaph, located between the GPO Building and Challis House, commemorates ANZAC forces who served in World War I, as well as Australians who gave their lives in subsequent conflicts. This was originally built from Moruya granite by stonemasons working on the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and dedicated on 8 August, 1927.
- A water fountain is located on the east side of Pitt Street, near the Commonwealth Bank of Australia building. Behind this fountain is an amphitheatre, which features a stage that can be mechanically raised when required for performances.
- Entrances to the underground railway station and attached plaza.
- Leo Port, the Lord Mayor of Sydney was an advocate of civic design, and was partly responsible for the pedestrianisation of Martin Place and Sydney Square.
George Street, Elizabeth Street, and Castlereagh Street, which cross Martin Place, are all major bus routes in Sydney's CBD. In addition, Martin Place railway station is located underground. Also nearby are St James railway station (near Macquarie Street end) and Wynyard railway station (near George Street end).
- An Anzac Day dawn service is held at the cenotaph every year on 25 April.
- Sydney's largest Christmas tree stands in Martin Place every year. A Christmas concert is held in late November, when the tree is decorated.
- Outdoor concerts are held in the amphitheatre throughout the year.
- Martin Place was a live outdoor venue for the Sydney 2000 Summer Olympics featuring 4.8 by 6.4 metre television screens broadcasting live coverage.
- Occupy Sydney - The Parliament house end of Martin Place, outside the Reserve Bank of Australia, was the site for the OccupySydney movement between Saturday 16th October and Sunday 23rd 2011. On the morning of Sunday the 23rd, more than 100 police forcibly removed the protestors, with some protestors claiming that excessive force was used. The police and the New South Wales government have defended the level of force used, while the local Lord Mayor has expressed concern about the resulting violence, and has backed the protestors. Contrary to this, protestors have assaulted police officers and illegally squatted in abandoned buildings, resulting in arrests
- The Matrix trilogy
- The water fountain on Pitt Street was featured in the film The Matrix, where Neo is distracted by the Woman in the Red Dress. The fountain has been rebuilt since the film was made. Martin Place was also the location of the final fight between Neo and Agent Smith in The Matrix Revolutions.
- Superman Returns
- Martin Place was featured in the 2006 blockbuster Superman Returns, in the scenes where Superman saves Kitty Kowalski from a car accident.
- Sunrise and WeekendSunrise
- Sunrise broadcasts from Martin Place, and often features live concerts.
- The NightCap
- Channel 7 HD-based show which is broadcast from the 7 television studios each late night. The show was axed before the 2008 Easter Break.
- Go Big
- Martin Place and the bar Hotel Chambers (located on the Elizabeth Street corner) were prominently featured in the Australian telemovie Go Big.
- The Morning Show
- Channel 7 show which is broadcast from the 7 television studios each weekday morning
- The Mole
- The 2005 series of reality television series The Mole, featured a live elimination round filmed in the Seven Network studios in Martin Place. The final round in which the Mole and the winner were revealed was also filmed here; one notable past contestant outside the studio that night was Bob Young, winner of the Weakest Link special in season 3.
- The Amazing Race
- Martin Place was featured as a roadblock in second season of the reality television series The Amazing Race.
- GPO Sydney
- Martin Place architecture
- Martin Place Cenotaph at the Register of War Memorials in New South Wales website.