Book Review

The Fight For A City’s Soul

Elizabeth Farrelly

Pan Macmillan.  Rrp. $34.99

Elizabeth Farrelly

For some of us who know Sydney…or knew it … each visit now brings a stab of nostalgia and sadness at what has gone. Killed off in a perceived frenzy of greed, corruption, over-development. 

There is no disputing the traffic jams, the freeways spewing over landscape, the loss of nature and habitat from backyards to parks and bushland, beaches eroding, views shredded by monstrous glass towers of greed, and ugly apartment blocks of dubious construction reducing sunlight on neighbours. 

Though what may look tacky, tasteless and ostentatious to some, may appear bright, modern progressive to others.

Elizabeth Farrelly shows her skills and knowledge as an architect/writer/worrier/former city councillor with articulate and evocative prose and it’s clear where she stands in the debate about Sydney’s past and future .

Once the city spaces accommodated a blending of residential, commercial, public and heritage  buildings against a stunning natural backdrop. The past was present and appreciated from the old terrace houses to the likes of the Treasury Building.

In Killing Sydney Elizabeth passionately discusses sustainability, affordability, beauty, as well as requisites that embrace basics such as the right to light, fresh air, green spaces, ease of living and travel, raising flags and alarms. It brings nostalgia and a sorry sense of what might have been in better political hands. And while I ache as I read, she ignites in the reader a small fierce fire to hit the pause button.  

Politicians, developers and assorted contractors et all, have not served Sydney well. Saviours, solutions, and suggestions are thin on the ground but her beautifully written paeon to a loved city before it’s swallowed by so called progress, is stunning, knowledgeable and heartfelt.

Read it and weep. And vote accordingly. 


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