Macquarie University
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Bringing 'the city to the suburbs': regional shopping centre development in Sydney, 1957-1994

posted on 2022-03-28, 15:20 authored by Matthew Bailey
This thesis traces the history of large pre-planned shopping centre development in Sydney, Australia. It begins with the pre-history of international and Australian retailing and the establishment of shopping malls in America that were built to accommodate the needs and desires of an affluent, car-driving population. It charts the establishment of the early shopping centres in Sydney, beginning with Top Ryde, which opened in 1957. Local histories of a number of centres demonstrate the westward spread of retailing in the 1970s, which accompanied the emergence of discount department stores in Australia. With the city largely staked out by the 1980s, the industry turned to expansions and refurbishments to consolidate existing developments. By the end of the decade, such expansions included multiplex cinemas and food courts, confirming the shopping centre as a site of leisure and entertainment. -- Shopping centres have always been social destinations. From the 1960s to the present day, young people in particular have flocked to them as places to meet with friends and sample the latest goods on offer. Shopping centres have also been important social sites for women - the early centres were marketed almost exclusively to the housewife. As convenient, clean and safe environments that might also offer childcare facilities, they received a largely positive reception. This thesis uses oral histories, amongst other sources, to explore the social world of the shopping centre. -- With success and expansion, came calls of retail saturation and abuses of market power. In the 1980s, pedestrianisation schemes were introduced to a number of Sydney suburbs in attempts to revive local retail. Meanwhile retailing associations pursued legislation aimed at curbing the power of the largest landlords. Both had mixed success, and neither halted the growth nor success of the industry. -- Shopping centres form an important, as yet untold, component of Australia's social, economic and cultural history. This thesis explores their development, reception and impact in Sydney from the opening of Top Ryde in 1957 to the introduction of the NSW Retail Leases Act in 1994.


Alternative Title

Regional shopping centre development in Sydney, 1957-1994

Table of Contents

The prehistory of Australian shopping centres -- Building Sydney's first shopping centres -- Shopping in Sydney's early shopping centres -- How the west was won: retail development in Sydney's western suburbs -- The consumption of leisure at Macquarie Centre -- Chatswood's 'retail battleground' -- Westfield Eastgardens and retail employment -- Building on a good thing: shopping centre redevelopment, institutionalisation and homogenisation -- Regional shopping centres and external retailing -- Leasing in regional shopping centres.


18 November 2010 Bibliography: p. 384-418

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


Thesis (PhD), Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Department, Centre or School

Department of Modern History, Politics and International Relations

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Michelle Arrow

Additional Supervisor 1

Beverley Kingston


Copyright disclaimer: Copyright Matthew Bailey 2011.




New South Wales


421p. ill. (some col.), maps

Former Identifiers

mq:14850 1534517