Highly recommend the blogging of the great Vanessa Berry. In particular, she has been blogging about the city of Sydney at Mirror Sydney and for the Museum of Sydney’s Public Sydney blog. Recently she posted a farewell tour of the Sydney monorail, and as a long-time big complainer about the monorail I had to comment…
You are right, Vanessa Berry, that it hardly seems fair to single out the monorail for crimes of ugly when there is so much other ugly about… but the bicentennial architecture dotted around the country (of which the monorail infrastructure is a good example) is notably lacking in any aesthetic merit – an era in which building projects boomed but sadly proliferated a love affair with tubular steel and large swathes of colourbond roofing painted aqua and coral, etc.
Yes, the patchwork of social history writ across city buildings is part of what makes cities great and interesting and meaningful to be in (thanks, Jane Jacobs). Watching the Barangaroo kerfuffle over the last few years, only recently did I realise this meant the aggressive incision into the sandstone rock face along Hickson Rd will actually be backfilled under a ‘resurrected’ hillside in the current master plan, thereby literally burying the Hungry Mile and all its evocative history. One might argue that the cut, and the strange flattening out of the harbour’s foreshore at this point, was originally bad urban development – but erasing this shipping history with new development, rather than finding a way to evolve it, hardly seems the best solution.
In terms of the monorail, I can’t help feeling like it was a bad move in the first place, an imported, re-hashed 1950s vision of the future designed to make 1988 seem Fun! The passing of time has far from improved it, but rather, proved it to be a folly. I’m prepared to be wrong, however; maybe we will miss it.
If you want to ride the monorail you had better be quick: last ride in just three days.
More ranting on Barangaroo courtesy of Elizabeth Farrelly.