In recent years the City of Perth has reinvigorated many of it's previously disused and decrepit heritage buildings. The old structures of Brookfield Place have turned into Perth's finest bar and cafe precinct and many old laneways have burst to life with galleries, coffee shops and small bars.
The original river wall infront of Supreme Court Gardens
Amongst the showpiece heritage facades and laneways there is another side of Perth's history, a side largely hidden from view that only the keenest of observers notice. Some of Perth's hidden treasures are also it's most significant in terms of how our city came to be.
Before the 1900's the Swan River bank was only a few metres in front of the Supreme Court Gardens, and came right up to the base of Kings Park. Various stages of land were reclaimed between 1860 and 1970 for projects such as the Narrows bridge, Supreme Court Gardens and an unofficial airport at what is now Langley Park.
Old pylons stick their heads above the Swan River surface
Along the riverbank in front of riverside drive, long docks and ship building yards stretched out beyond the swampy banks along the Perth foreshore. It was a hive of activity that drove WA's early economy before the Fremantle-Guilford railway was opened in 1881. Today you can still see remnants of these buildings at low tide.
Back from the river, in the city centre, early cobblestone roads were built from mines such as Statham's Quarry in the Perth Hills. What may seem like dodgy road-building in our CBD alleyways is actually an effort by the City of Perth to expose some of these historic roads, "peeling back the layers of Perth" as a Two Feet & A Heartbeat guide once told me.
Tarmac pealed back to reveal it's cobblestone predecessor
The physical history of Perth isn't the only part of our past showcased in the CBD. The footpaths on either side of St. Georges Terrace are lined end to end not with celebrities, but with the people that have helped shape Perth. The librarians, fishermen, surveyors and priests, many of today's everyday jobs were once held by enterprising men and women determined to make a difference.
Within Brookfield Place the news of the past comes to life around the old West Australian printing headquarters. The benches are inscribed with captions pulled out of interesting stories of an age gone by and inside the fancy new bar the walls of the staircase are lined with some of the West Australians biggest stories.
Wherever you look in the city there's reminders of how our CBD was built. With architects and urban planners increasingly incorporating our past into our future we're likely to start uncovering a lot more secrets hidden beneath the layers of our modern metropolis.