Books for sale

Delve into history

You can buy books about Sydney's history from the City of Sydney.

The City's history team makes an active contribution to original research about Sydney's history. The team commissioned and published the following titles.

You can buy copies at the City of Sydney Archives or at any of the City of Sydney Library branches.

All prices are in Australian dollars and include GST.

Sydney Town Hall: The Building and its Collection

Sydney Town Hall is one of Sydney's most recognised landmarks. Written by the Town Hall's curator, Margaret Betteridge, this book presents a lavishly illustrated architectural tour of the building and its glorious interiors. It also showcases the City's collection of artworks, historical items and civic traditions.

Margaret Betteridge
Sydney (City of Sydney) 2008

248pp includes index, bibliography, colour photographs
ISBN 9780975119648 (paperback)

Town Hall Book

Grandeur and Grit: A History of Glebe

From the 18th to 21st centuries Glebe's character has changed with the growth of Sydney and the development of society. Today's inner suburb – teeming with life, crowded with terraces, shops, pubs, schools and churches – was once a country retreat for affluent families from the young city nearby. As gold rushes, depressions, wars, gentrification and globalisation left marks, Glebe maintained a tough local identity.

Max Solling
Sydney (Halstead Press) 2007

293pp includes index, bibliographical references, black & white photographs
ISBN 9781920831387 (hardback)

Glebe book cover

Millers Point: The Urban Village

Millers Point was once an exotic seaport village where whaling, sealing and sandalwood crews thronged the rowdy pubs, and mansions housed wealthy merchants. Later, the suburb was mostly peopled by wharfies and their families scraping a living from "the Hungry Mile". Plague reached Sydney and the area was temporarily quarantined. Ever since, government action has determined the fate and fortunes of the historic district nestling below the approaches of the Harbour Bridge.

Shirley Fitzgerald & Christopher Keating
Sydney (Halstead Press) 2009

144pp includes index, bibliographical references, black & white photographs
ISBN 9781920831653 (paperback)

Millers Point book cover

Pyrmont & Ultimo: Under Siege

Pyrmont and Ultimo were once known for their railway yards, wool stores, mills, wharves, powerhouses and quarries. The landscape of these two neighbouring suburbs was degraded by industrialisation and redevelopment, which caused the community to become disjointed. Now that the area is teeming with new residents and workplaces, this revised edition brings the story of Pyrmont and Ultimo into the 21st century.

Shirley Fitzgerald & Hilary Golder
Sydney (Halstead Press) 2009

160pp includes index, bibliographical references, black & white photographs
ISBN 9781920831660 (paperback)

Pyrmont book cover

Chippendale: Beneath the Factory Wall

Originally this fertile and well-watered area was once coveted by industrialists who manufactured Sydney's sugar, beer and gin. Other industries followed and soon pollution, planning disasters, illegal subdivisions, sub-standard buildings and floods that poured filth into the unsewered slums all contributed to degrade Chippendale throughout the 19th century.

Chippendale today, wedged between Central Station and Sydney University, attracts residents to quiet streets thanks to its proximity to the city centre and educational institutions. Factory noise and the heavy atmosphere of brewing hops no longer hang over the area, with the huge brewery site about to welcome a huge influx of new locals.

Shirley Fitzgerald
Sydney (Halstead Press) 2008

144pp includes index, bibliographical references, black & white photographs
ISBN 9781920831486 (paperback)

Chippendale book cover

Surry Hills: The City's Backyard

Writers such as Ruth Park and Kylie Tennant made Surry Hills notorious as the inner-city home of battlers, larrikins, crime bosses and the rag trade.

In this new edition of Surry Hills: The City's Backyard, Christopher Keating contrasts the well-heeled residents and ultra-chic businesses that cram into today's Surry Hills with the shady past and planning disasters that once put the whole area under threat of demolition.

Christopher Keating
Sydney (Halstead Press) 2008

143pp includes index, bibliographical references, black & white photographs
ISBN 9781920831493 (paperback)

Surry Hills book cover

Red Tape, Gold Scissors: The Story of Sydney's Chinese

One of the few free settlers attracted to Australia in 1818 was Mak Sai Ying, who has descendents living in Sydney today. He bought land, married, and took up a pub licence. Since then, Chinese people have had a colourful and conspicuous place in Australia's oldest city. Success in work and commerce made them a target of business, jealousy, racist agitation in the labour movement and discriminatory measures including the White Australia Policy.

Shirley Fitzgerald's popular and scholarly book traces the feats and fortunes of Australia's largest Chinese community.

Shirley Fitzgerald
Sydney (Halstead Press) 2008 - revised and updated edition in English

248pp includes index, bibliographical references, black & white photographs
ISBN 9781920831615 (paperback)

Red tape, golf scissors cover

Sacked: Removing and Remaking the Sydney City Council

The City of Sydney was first sacked in 1853. Back then the New South Wales government said it was ‘pernicious to the citizens’. It was sacked again in the 1920s, being described as a ‘cauldron of corruption’. In 1967 the Askin Liberal government accused the Labor party of running the City as a closed shop and frustrating city development - the City was sacked again. In 1987 the Unsworth Labor government returned the compliment.

Weaving through the story of these sackings are the endless changes to the City’s boundaries, as amalgamations and de-amalgamations with neighbouring councils occurred with astounding regularity.

Hilary Golder
Sydney (City of Sydney in association with Books & Writers) 2004

232pp includes index, bibliographic references, black & white illustrations
ISBN: 0975119613 (paperback)
$5 Remaindered

Sacked book cover

We Never Had a Hotbed of Crime! Life in Twentieth-Century South Sydney

Seventy people were interviewed by Sue Rosen about their experience of life, politics, economics and fun in the South Sydney area when they were growing up. This book presents edited extracts from these oral histories, creating a vivid and rich picture of life in the area. It chronicles events and conveys a strong sense of what it was like to live through the experiences of 20th-century urban life.

Sue Rosen
Alexandria (Hale & Iremonger in association with the South Sydney Council) 2000

240pp includes index, black & white photographs
ISBN 0868066877 - paperback $5 Discounted price!
ISBN 0868067016 - hardback $10 Discounted price!

Hotbed book cover

The Capitol Theatre Restoration

Lisa Murray presents a warts-and-all history of the planning issues, the political manoeuvres and the philosophical battles that eventually led to the Capitol Theatre being restored and reopened in 1995.

Lisa Murray
Sydney (City of Sydney) 2003

64pp includes bibliographic references, black & white illustrations plus a colour spread
ISBN 0975119605 (paperback)
$5 Remaindered

Capitol theatre book cover

Sydney Town Hall: A Social History

This book focuses primarily on Town Hall's relationship with the people of Sydney and the many events that have taken place in the hall. They range from the humble, everyday and personal, to lavish public celebrations of national and international significance. The book is generously illustrated with historic photographs, presenting a lively account of the building's social history.

Margo Beasley
Sydney (City of Sydney in association with Hale & Iremonger) 1998

128pp includes index, bibliographic references, black & white illustrations
ISBN 0-86806-638-9
$5 Remaindered

Town Hall social book cover

The Accidental City: Planning Sydney Since 1788

Sydney has achieved the status (long sought by its promoters, elites and cultural cringers) of a first-class world city and clinched its claim to being Australia’s premier capital and international gateway. This book looks at the 12.95 square kilometres that constitute the City today, and examines the influence that planners and planning have had on this part of the world.

Paul Ashton
Sydney (City of Sydney in association with Hale & Iremonger) 1993

128pp includes index, bibliographic references, black & white illustrations
ISBN 0-86806-487-4

Accidental Sydney book cover

Last updated: Monday, 1 July 2019