You might have seen some of the historic photographs of Sydney from the late 1800s and early 1900s that currently decorate building sites around the city. There are some great old shots of our earliest trams on a construction site on the corner of Liverpool and George Streets – a real back to the future moment with the nearby light rail mayhem. And at the top end of Cathedral Street in the Loo, opposite the Old Fitzroy Hotel, there’s a splendid collection of 20s and 30s pics from the East Sydney area.
It’s a welcome initiative by the City Of Sydney Council and a refreshing change from building hoardings that are usually plastered with posters for the latest rock touring act or dance party. But what about those long forgotten Sydney cafes, bars, restaurants and fast food outlets, demolished decades ago with hardly a single happy snap to be found. Let’s wallow in a cesspool of nostalgia as we recall some of those remarkable urban gems, like the…
THE BAD TASTE RESTAURANT: Situated on the first floor of the Agincourt Hotel at Central (circa 1970s) this short lived venture invited patrons to sit at dinky tables with Mickey Mouse place mats and be gently abused by theatrically rude staff. The food was cheap and average but the attraction was the atmosphere, the complete antithesis of fine dining. Any older readers ever eat there?
THE YUMMY YUMMY FOOD BAR: Synonymous with late nights at the Manzil Room (the Cross’s most famous music venue in the 1980s), the ‘Yummy’ was the chosen destination of many a 3.00am inebriate, bent on the consumption of any UFO (‘unidentified frying object’) there to satisfy a juice induced craving. Strategically placed in almost the middle of Darlinghurst Rd it was a magnet for all fast food junkies.
THE FLIGHT DECK BAR: Hidden away beneath the old Menzies Hotel at Wynyard Station the Flight Deck Bar featured airline style seats and all the atmosphere of a cool international flight. It was the fun plane that never got off the ground. I can’t remember whether the bar staff were dressed accordingly or whether there were barf bags in the back of the seats, but it sure was a hoot.
THE MARS BAR: Neither can I recall when the Mars Bar coffee shop opened and for that matter when it closed, but remember it well from the 70s and 80s, tucked away in Sydney’s Pitt Street. Decked out like a galactic wonderland you took a trip into outer space every time you entered its somewhat dimly lit interior. Magic!
SUZIE WONGS: Imagine a CBD coffee shop, secreted in a bland city arcade that featured live rock bands like Ray Hoff & The Offbeats on a Saturday afternoon. Yes that was Sydney in the 60s where fourteen and fifteen year olds could mix it safely, alcohol free with the older crowd to dig those crazy sounds!
So much of this city’s historic past from the 60s onwards has been lost as very little remains in the way of photographs, let alone film or video. Ironically today, with cameras everywhere, the 2000s are bound to leave an abundant archive of visual records, especially strewn through social media. Oh for a camera phone back in the 1980s at the Mars Bar!