Our City

A collection of interviews about different places in the City of Sydney

Our City
City of Sydney Archives SRC76

The City of Sydney is characterised by diverse neighbourhoods, each with their own personalities. Locals reflect on different places in Sydney in which they have participated: their significance, meaning and transformations.

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    Loretto Thurgood

    Loretto Thurgood was born in Newtown in 1919 and grew up there and in adjacent Erskineville. Her father was a painter and her mother took care of the house and family. In the excerpt below she recalls Newtown theatres and entertainment.

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    Kate Dunbar

    Kate Dunbar was born in 1923 and came to Australia from England a few years later. In this interview she talks about her home life, her parents’ unsatisfactory marriage, her mother’s shop and her father’s unreliable employment. In the excerpt below she remembers the Depression of the 1930s.

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    Frank Altoft

    Frank Altoft came to Australia from England, aged 10, in 1925. He recalls life during the Depression; entertainment venues; shops; street vendors; gangs; the fate of single mothers; and his working life.

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    Anne Ramsay

    Anne Ramsay was born in 1914 and grew up in Redfern. In this interview she talks about her childhood, her parents, and life in inner Sydney. In the extract below Anne recalls childhood entertainment in the 1920s.

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    Richard Mewjork

    Richard Mewjork grew up in Surry Hills in a Chinese family. In this interview he remembers his 1930s childhood, his mother’s work as a seamstress and cafe proprietor, and his stepfather’s work at the produce markets. Richard also discusses his own varied careers in newspapers, milk bars, door-to-door sales and the car industry. In the excerpt below Richard recalls his brief career as a ‘professional’ wrestler, entertaining the crowds at the Redfern velodrome.

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    Mick Green

    Mick Green is the son of Fred Green, for whom Green Square is named. Fred Green was a Labor MP and Mayor of Alexandria. In this interview Mick describes his childhood and working class life and politics in South Sydney in the 1930s and ’40s. In the excerpt below he discusses his parents’ affection for their children and the impact the Great Depression had on family life.

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    Henry Brown

    Henry Brown grew up in Erskineville in the 1920s and ’30s. In this interview he talks about religion, children’s paid work, recreation, sport and many other aspects of working class life in that period. In the excerpt below Henry describes the joys of transporting ducks and fowls on trams.

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    Gavin Harris

    Gavin Harris has lived in Kings Cross for many decades. In this interview he talks about the history of Sydney’s best known precinct, its architecture, characters, and engagement with the arts of all kinds, as well as its darker underside. In the excerpt below Gavin outlines some of the Cross’s many personality traits.

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    Dario Lo Schiavo

    Dario Lo Schiavo grew up in a Italian household in Potts Point. In this interview he describes his middle class extended family, his parents’ cultural and political pursuits, and schoolboy life in the 1920s and ’30s. In the excerpt below he refers to his artist brother, Virgil Lo Schiavo, and his contact with notable film stars and artists of the period.

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    Nick David

    Nick David owns a convenience shop in Woolloomooloo. In this interview he talks about his Lebanese forebears in the area and further afield, business interests, and the local community during and after the demolitions and redevelopment of recent decades. In the excerpt below he describes the hippie community which occupied the empty houses in the interim and the vibrant street life they brought with them.

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    Giovanni Lo Surdo

    Giovanni Lo Surdo grew up in Woolloomooloo’s Sicilian community in the 1960s. In this interview he talks about the life of the professional fishing community in that suburb; his mother’s work as a seamstress, and his sadness at the loss of the old Woolloomooloo community. In the excerpt below he describes a now disappeared street scene.

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    Sydney Fennell

    Sydney Fennell grew up in Alexandria, a once heavily industrialised inner city suburb. In this interview he talks about his childhood, family, friends and employment in local industry. In the excerpt below Sydney recalls the work he did as a child to earn pocket money to save for Christmas.

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    Michael Toohey

    Michael Toohey grew up in Waterloo, a once heavily industrialised suburb in inner Sydney. In this interview he talks about his family, childhood, work, industry and local connections. In the excerpt below Michael mourns the disappearance of ‘old’ Waterloo people through the process of urban regeneration.