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The Sydney General Post Office: a metaphor for Australian Federation


Orr, K, The Sydney General Post Office: a metaphor for Australian Federation, Limina, 13 pp. 66-79. ISSN 1324-4558 (2007) [Refereed Article]


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The architecture of the Sydney General Post Office, completed from 1864 to 1891, captures the spirit of the Australian populace in the period preceding Federation. By the time the carvings on the Pitt Street façade were commenced, Sydney had hosted an international exhibition and become a world city; and an emerging urban ethos of pride in the city was encouraging widespread interest in further development. The controversial carvings reflected this changing temper. The completion of the clock tower in 1891 marked a new stage in the life of the city. The physical form of the metropolis had nurtured the ideals and aspirations of society and now provided a platform for nation building. The remarkable clock tower was used as a metaphor for Federation in a poem by the Federalist, Robert Garran. Australian Federation, claims John Hirst in The Sentimental Nation, was a people’s movement and an outcome of national sentiment. This paper is the first to identify how the grand architecture of the General Post Office helped people to imagine themselves as part of a larger national and international community.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:Sydney General Post Office, Australian Federation
Research Division:Built Environment and Design
Research Group:Architecture
Research Field:Architectural history, theory and criticism
Objective Division:Culture and Society
Objective Group:Understanding past societies
Objective Field:Understanding Australia's past
UTAS Author:Orr, K (Professor Kirsten Orr)
ID Code:107517
Year Published:2007
Deposited By:Architecture
Deposited On:2016-03-17
Last Modified:2016-09-29
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