Friday, May 1, 2009

Corner Adelaide & Edward

For many years, the tallest building in Brisbane was the City Hall, with its impressive clock tower. During the 50s and 60s, multi-storey office blocks were erected that started to challenge the height of the City Hall tower. One of them had a little extra help. The MLC building on the north-eastern corner of Adelaide St and Edward St followed other MLC buildings around the country by installing a weather beacon on its roof in 1958. The following photograph from Kodak for the Queensland centenary celebrations shows the MLC building in 1959. Subsequently, MLC built a new state office block up the road on the corner of Adelaide and George Streets, and the weather beacon was relocated as part of the move. On this page you will find a guide for reading the beacon - I assume that the lights would have worked in the same fashion in their earlier position.

(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #6944-0001-0003)

There's a bit to look at in this picture - just click on it to see a larger image. Firstly, the MLC sign on the front of the building is quite modest in comparison to the signs we see today. Next, we can see a Holden sedan of the day about to make a right-hand turn up Edward St, which these days operates one-way in the opposite direction. Then there is one of Brisbane's trams picking up and dropping off passengers at the "safety zone" at the tram stop. It's a shame that we've lost the trams, and if you look behind the tram in this picture you can see one of the reasons that they are no longer present on our streets. They slowed the traffic considerably because of the amount of room that they needed, and the fact that cars were obliged to stop behind the tram at tram stops where there was no safety zone for passengers. In front of the tram, you can just see a traffic cop in his white pith helmet, assisting traffic through this busy intersection in those pre-traffic lights days.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

In my recent photo (above) we can see a much larger sign at the front of the building - the sign shows the address (243 Edward St) and the name of the principal tenant. The area is now much leafier and less congested, with most through traffic avoiding the city. Adelaide St now has designated bus lanes for the Council buses that replaced the trams. They take up as much room as the trams did, and the buses spew out smoke and noise - have we really gained anything by losing the trams?

Click here to see a Google Map.


Next: Commuting


  1. When I was a little girl - living in Papua New Guinea in the 1960's - our most exciting holidays were the ones which involved the very sophisticated flight to Brisbane in a Boeing, getting all 'dressed-up' and riding into the city on the TRAM.
    Part of me yearns for those times when 'going to town' involved patent black Mary Janes and little frilly ankle socks, accompanied by your mum in a real hat, and your dad in a tie.
    Thanks for the nostalgia and history!
    Margi Macdonald

  2. Hi Margi
    Thanks for visiting and big thanks for your comments - it's so rewarding to know that the blog is enjoyed.
    I think many Bribaneites are nostalgic about trams - I know I miss them a lot. And how smart would we be now if only we had kept them!
    There are more tram posts coming, including a special one just about them.
    I hope you keep reading.

  3. Another great post! In the 50s my dad worked in a fruit shop/milkbar which was located near Bowman House (on the corner of Edward and Adelaide)

  4. I just thought of looking up the MLC building because my Dad did his apprenticeship as a Carpenter, during the building of it.
    KD Morris was the Builder.He had two Sons Paul and ?
    After Dad finished working on the project he ended up working as a Builder in New Guinea.
    Like the other person who commented...we to as a family would fly from Port Moresby, and go into the "Big Smoke" catch the Tram , and walk around.
    Yep use to be the tallest building in Brisbane once.reg Sean Davies.🙂


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