Circular Quay.

The city by day

Our harbourside city has everything. Iconic landmarks, beautiful heritage buildings and modern architecture, all sorts of entertainment options, parks, gardens and stunning waterfront views are on our doorstep. Yet living and/or working in the city can make people complacent – too busy with their daily lives to enjoy the wonder around us.

That’s why the City of Sydney is revitalising the city centre; we want to encourage people to experience Sydney afresh.

This includes changing the way we get around the city. Our transport plans will mean less congestion, slower speed limits and traffic lights that change more quickly to favour pedestrians, not cars. By introducing these measures and eventually light rail, we hope to make the city a pleasant place to wander around – without all the noise, congestion and pollution.

As well as linking our parks and gardens to create a network of lush, green, peaceful open spaces throughout the city, our planners have a vision to re-invent the good old fashioned town square. Think of the piazzas in European cities, where the whole population gathers to meet, greet and escape the heat on a hot summer night.

We’re starting out simply. In early 2011, we introduced deckchairs to Town Hall Square and Barrack Street, Wynyard – open spaces that are underused. The candy-striped canvas chairs proved so comfy we had to extend the project beyond the official end of summer. We even threw in free wi-fi at Town Hall Square.

The deckchairs have been repeated in summer months ever since and are a sign of things to come. Ultimately, we’ll be redeveloping the areas around Central, Town Hall and Circular Quay stations into places where people want to linger and enjoy themselves. This of course is a massive undertaking. So we’ve been practising on a smaller scale, in places such as Three Saints Square in Darlinghurst.

Located at one of Sydney’s busiest intersections (on the corner of Oxford Street, South Dowling Street, Victoria Street and Barcom Avenue), the Square is now a mini oasis. We’ve installed new paving and footpaths, seats and a raingarden, as well as a striking sculpture by local artist Camie Lyons. (See more about art in the community).

Now our sights are set on redeveloping Gresham Street in Central Sydney, Richard Johnson Square and Victoria Square in Darlinghurst.

Our public squares will be linked by street-lined trees and laneways. We’ve allocated $9 million to dust off and open up the city’s forgotten laneways. The idea is to create myriad opportunities to get off the beaten track and explore.

We’re supporting creative business ideas and helping imaginative entrepreneurs set up small and very small businesses in the back streets. Quirky cafes and small bars are just the start. And we’re doing our bit by decorating laneways with permanent artworks, planter boxes and mood lighting.

Towards 2030, we are revitalising Central Sydney by:

  • bringing laneways back to life
  • putting the public back into public spaces
  • changing the way people move around and experience the city.

Sydney 2030: green, global and connected. Go to the strategic directions.