Visiting Sydney from the country

Visiting Sydney from the country

‘The Government’s vision for Sydney is: a strong global city, a great place to live.’ Strategical Planning NSW Gov.

Arriving at central as so many country dwellers have in the past, I feel like one, unused to the number of people.

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The city has been disorientating spectacle since Balzac and Baudelaire, and the Impressionists showed us how.

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The identity of this city has changed and it is growing too quickly.  Sydney’s population will reach 5 million next year 2016.[ii] NSW will grow by 100,500 people on average each year to 2031.[iii]

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Cities are getting massive and draining the countryside of populations and natural resources. They will play a critical role as agents of coping with climate change and must start becoming sustainable, despite these large projections for the human population.

10 15_Sydney_angel 10 15_Sydney_cranes 10 15_Sydney_homeless Tent city Belmore Park

There is no reasoning to a city, just primal urges, motives of survival and making money. Its tenses bulk up, the past is present in fragments if you look everywhere, the present buzzes with traffic, pedestrians, shop windows, advertising, and the future is being hauled up by all the revolving cranes sculpting the skyline while recommending a closer look at the sky.

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‘The world is building more cities, faster than ever before. China used more cement in the last three years than the United States used in the entire 20th century. By 2050, India will need new urban infrastructure to house an additional 404 million people – a task comparable to building every city in the United States in 35 years. The global urban population is expected to rise to well over six billion by 2050 from 3.9 billion today.’[iv]


Times change, 17thC India had a higher standard of living per capita than England.

All cities have their moments in the sun when I would like to have been living there
as a free male citizen, that is. Here are some of them:


Troy, late-13th century

Memphis, 2,500

Mohenjo-daro, 2,500

Ur, 2100

Mycenae, 1250

Hattusa, 1000

Babylon, 600 (Nebuchadnezzar) the first city to have more than 200,000 inhabitants

Athens, 435

Persepolis, 300


Hatra, 200

Rome, 250

Ctesiphon, 500

Teotihuacan (‘The City of the Gods”, the sixth largest city in the world, 30 miles north of Mexico City), 600

Xian, 650

Baghdad, 750 (the first city with over 1,000,000)

Kyoto, 850

Cordova, 1000

Tulum, 1150

Sukhotha, 1200

Hangzhou, 1250

Milan, 1300

Angkor Wat, 1400

Bruges, 1450

Venice, 1450

Florence, 1450

Vijaynagar, 1500

Mexico City, 1500

Agra, 1570

Istanbul, 1650

London, 1750

St Petersburg, 1800

Paris, 1920s

Berlin, 1920s

New York, the fifties

London, the sixties (1825, the first city over 5 million)

Bristol, the seventies

Sydney, the nineties.

and now – none.


[ii]…/sydneys-population-to-reach-5-million-in-a-year-201… Apr 1, 2015


[iv] Alex Tabarrok and Shruti Rajagopolan, Private Cities Open to All, in Commentary The New York Times18 March, 2015.
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