The illustrious history of the QVB
Ever since its inauguration in 1898, the QVB has been a hub of activities. Designed by city architect George McRae, the QVB replaced the market hall that once stood at this exact same location. The new building, designed in an opulent Romanesque style, was dedicated to Queen Victoria to celebrate her Diamond Jubilee. At the time, the building housed coffee bars, showrooms and department stores. Entrepreneurship and entertainment went hand in hand; the QVB has even been home to a concert hall that was later transformed into a library.
In the 1930s, the building was drastically renovated to accommodate Sydney’s city council. In the following decades there was a dwindling interest in preserving the building. Between 1959 and 1971 there was even talk of demolishing it. Fortunately it didn’t come to this. In the early 1980s, a comprehensive restoration project was approved and gradually the building was restored to its former glory. It reopened in 1986.
In 2009, the QVB underwent another serious upgrade with an additional 34 million euro renovation. All escalators, lifts, banisters and carpets were replaced or repaired and the walls received a new coat of paint. The renovations preserved George McRae’s original design while catering to the needs of a 21st century shopping paradise.
Stained glass window in the stairwell
Letter from the Queen
Every detail inside the Queen Victoria Building has been painstakingly restored, including the arches, banisters, stained glass windows and stone floors. The original 19th-century staircase is the biggest eye-catcher. Other parts of the building also reveal many historic treasures. The most compelling item is a letter from Queen Elizabeth II, addressed to the residents of Sydney. Written in 1986, the letter will remain unopened until 2085, when the mayor of Sydney will read out the contents to the city’s residents.