Celebrating our History and Heritage

Many cities in Australia and overseas have introduced plaques programs to celebrate their social, cultural, literary and political heritage, with the best known being London's Blue Plaques, established in 1866.

Over 800 Blue Plaques recognise the link between buildings and prominent writers, actors, artists, scientists, politicians and others who have made significant cultural, social or civic contributions. An iPhone App enables residents and visitors to easily locate nearby plaques, find plaques by category and learn more about plaque subjects.

Council has given in principle endorsement to the City collaborating with the Royal Australian Historical Society to develop a Green Plaques program in Sydney.

Over 100 Green Plaques acknowledging historic and significant buildings and marking historic sites in Sydney were installed in the late 1980s and early 1990s as a contribution to the Bicentenary. A few plaques also marked buildings and sites linked with prominent people, such as the house in Phillip Street, Sydney where Henry Lawson lived with his mother Louisa; 'Banjo' Paterson's Office in Bond Street, Sydney and Henry Parkes' Shop in Hunter Street.

In a Lord Mayoral Minute about the program, I requested that the revised Green Plaques program give greater emphasis to celebrating links between sites and significant people and events. I also requested the CEO to provide Council with targets and timeframes for the installation of new Green Plaques over the next five years and proposals for using new technologies to help people locate plaques and gain more from them.

The proposed naming of a laneway between Derwent Lane and Derwent Street, Glebe will also celebrate and mark an important part of Sydney's history.

In 1974, womens' movement activists founded Australia's first women's refuge by squatting in two vacant adjoining houses in Westmoreland Street, Glebe. Its name, Elsie Women's Refuge Night Shelter, was taken from the nameplate on the front of one of the houses. In 1999, on the 25th anniversary of Elsie's founding, there were more than 300 such refuges for victims of domestic violence across the country.

The name Elsie's Walk was suggested by former Councillor, Robyn Kemmis, with the approval of the Manager of the Elsie refuge. Council endorsed publicly exhibiting the name on Monday night. The proposed name will soon be placed on exhibition and it's expected a further report will go back to Council in early 2012.

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