Sydney’s 250-year-old evolution in 11 maps

How much has Sydney changed since the first settlers arrived on 26th January 1788?

Well, since then, Sydney has developed into one of the world’s largest, most cosmopolitan cities, with a population of over 5 million and a unique mix of Aboriginal, British, Asian, and European cultural influences.

To get a better understanding of how Sydney became the modern metropolis it is today, Budget Direct analyzed dozens of maps of Sydney from the National Library of Australia and other sources from the years 1770-2020.

They then designed their own maps combining information and features from the historical maps to create the below animation that depicts the major infrastructural, architectural, and demographic developments of the city:

A Plan of Sting-Ray Bay – 1770

Drawn by Richard Pickersgill, as part of the HM Bark Endeavour expedition led by Lieutenant James Cook, this map got its name due to the presence of stingrays, until the discovery of new plants in the region prompted Cook to call it Botany Bay.

Sydney Cove Port Jackson Map – 1788

Sydney 1778

This was the first known etching of the first settlement in Sydney – a penal colony at Sydney Cove.

The full title of the map is “Sketch & description of the settlement at Sydney Cove Port Jackson in the County of Cumberland taken by a transported convict on the 16th of April, 1788, which was not quite 3 months after Commodore Phillips’s landing there.”

Commodore Arthur Phillip was a British Royal Navy officer who became the first Governor of New South Wales and established its earliest penal colony.

A topographical plan of the settlements of New South Wales – 1799

Sydney 1799

This map was made to show the progress of exploration since 1788, completed by professional cartographers and explorers Charles Grimes and Matthew Flinders. Additions to the map were made in 1815.

Plan de la Ville de Sydney – 1802

Sydney 1802

This map was drawn during the Voyage de découvertes aux terres Australes, a scientific expedition commissioned by the Institut de France whose purpose was to observe the geography and natural history of New Holland.

The expedition was approved by Napoléon Bonaparte, as First Consul, and Nicholas Baudin was chosen as commander.

In April 1802, Baudin’s ship the Geographe had an encounter with the Investigator, a British ship captained by Matthew Flinders, who was also on an expedition to chart New South Wales.

Plan of the town and suburbs of Sydney, August, 1822

Sydney 1822

This map has an unknown author and place of publication. It was likely commissioned by then-Governor Thomas Brisbane.

It is currently held in the National Library of Australia.

Map of Sydney showing, in contrast, the town of 1802 with the city of 1873

Sydney 1873

This map was published as a supplement to Sydney Mail magazine to show the growth and development of Sydney from 1802 to 1873.

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