Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Raking the grass in midtown Auckland

June Baran very kindly sent this wonderful image by email, and gave permission for it to be published here. The photo is dated February 1927, originally found ripped but since repaired. According to June: "We put it in a small church magazine and someone told us it was taken where the Civic Theatre now is [corner Wellesley and Queen Streets] and the farmers used to sell their cattle there thus the straw being raked also."

Both June and I would love to know more about the image. Any info from readers would be appreciated.


  1. This is the interesction of Queen and Wellesley Street.

    The building in the centre with the dome is the Regent Cinema which was modified in the 1970s as Cinemas 1 & 2. The building on the left is the Civic Hotel, its still there although its been modernised by having all its victorian detailing chipped off. Beyond it sporting the Good Value sign is the side of Smith & Caughy's Department store. The big blank building to the rear right is the back facades of the Auckland Society of Arts Building, the most splendid example of Art Nouveau in the country {sadly demolished}.

    The area in the fore ground had been occupied by a range of late victorian shops {very much like those in the centre of the photgraph}. They had been purchased by Auckland City Council and demolished to make way for the new Civic Centre.

    Running into difficulties Council eventually leased part of the site to Thomas O'Brian who built the Civic Theatre here in 1929.

    For a couple of years before construction began there was a Miniature Golf Course run on part of the site. These men are probably creating part of the landscape plantings. Miniature Golf was {very briefly} quite fashionable in the mid 1920s especially in Hollywood, California.

    Behind the photgrapher is the site of the old City Markets {basically where Aotea Square is today} These had been constructed in the 1870s and demolished in 1918 when they were relocated to the Viaduct Harbour as part of the Council's redevelopment of this area as the new Civic Centre.

    Animals hadn't been traded here since the 1870s at the latest {those activities had moved to Newmarket - hence it's name}. This is probably what the above comment refers to although it's not impossible that during the 1920s some sort of event like an agricultural fair or circus was held on this site {maybe thats why the poles have sprial bunting on them}.

  2. I'd say they were tidying the place up for the royal visit that month.