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Sydney continued to expand steadily in the 1830s. Traders and entrepeneurs were transforming it into a colony, rather than a penal settlement. In 1840 transportation to NSW would stop.

A ‘Plan of Sydney with Pyrmont, New South Wales: The Latter the Property of Edw. Macarthur Esquire, Divided into Allotments for Building. 1836’[1], shows that the creeks that were present just five years earlier are vanishing and Cockle Bay is contracting. Streets are dotted in over the cattle market grounds. There are three new wharves between Miller’s Point and Dawes Point. The area around Pyrmont Bay, as the name of the map suggests, is divided into 101 allotments.

There is still a small section marked ‘Cattle Markets’ near Campbell Street in 1843, and now there is a ‘Hay Market’ as well. Wharves are appearing in Pyrmont Bay. Ferry routes to Balmain and across the harbour are indicated, and the river route to Parramatta. Streets cross the lowlands of Woolloomooloo and the ridge above, called Darlinghurst. Wests Creek is marked, running down into Rushcutters Bay. Grose Farm is labelled out on the edge of the city, in the fork between Parramatta Road and City Road.

The Hay and Corn Market and the Cattle Market can still be seen in a map from 1854[2]. The edges of the harbour, from ‘Semi Circular Quay’ to Pyrmont, bristle with wharves for all that trade. ‘Semi Circular Quay’ itself is flat and wharfless. A wharf and jetties have appeared in Woolloomooloo Bay. There are Toll Bars on the major roads into and out of the city – ‘South Head Old Road’ (east of Dowling Street); ‘William Street east’ (at Rushcutters Bay), ‘Parramatta Street’ (just west of the turn-off to ‘The Glebe Road’). The ‘Terminus of the Sydney Railway’ is marked between Cleveland Street and Devonshire Street (although there would be no terminus buildings, and no trains, for another year), and the train line is marked as ‘Sydney and Goulburn Railway’ (recording the original motivation for a train line, proposed in 1848). A branch train line marked down the west side of Darling Harbour would also be completed and opened in 1855.

The next map in the book, from 1866[3], is a masterpiece of interconnectedness, with bridges across Darling Harbour, Blackwattle Bay, and linking Pyrmont and Glebe Island. There are roads and a subdivision on the north side of the harbour, called ‘St Leonards’.

Then the maps can no longer contain themselves within the city. The 1868 map stretches out to Tempe and Botany in the south, Canterbury and Ashfield in the west, Balgowlah to the north. Coogee, Waverley and Randwick show substantial development in the east.

When the first train line, from Sydney to Parramatta, opened in 1855, the spread of people out of the city accelerated. In 1851 9,684 people lived in suburbs; this figure increased to 28,233 by 1856. It took about another twenty years for the number of suburb-dwellers to exceed the number of city-dwellers. By 1891 there were more than twice as many people living in the suburbs – 275,631 – compared to the city – 107,652.[4]

[1]Ashton, P & Waterson, D. Sydney takes shape: a history in maps. Hema Maps, 2000, p23.

[2]Ashton, P & Waterson, D. Sydney takes shape: a history in maps. Hema Maps, 2000, p26-7.

[3]Ashton, P & Waterson, D. Sydney takes shape: a history in maps. Hema Maps, 2000, p29.

[4]Ashton, P & Waterson, D. Sydney takes shape: a history in maps. Hema Maps, 2000, p76