Sydney by decade
Below is a selection of maps highlighting the changes to Sydney and the Cumberland Plains from the 1770s through to the 1960s.
They have been selected from the State Library's extensive map collections that are being gradually digitised to provide online access. A more extensive range is available through our catalogue.
The Cumberland Plain is a region in the Sydney Basin which extends from Windsor in the north, to Picton in the south; and from the Nepean-Hawkesbury River in the west to Sydney City's Inner West in the east.
1770: Sting-Ray Bay now known as Botany Bay.
1788: William Bradley's Sydney Cove, Port Jackson.
1788: A rare early engraving of the first settlement at Sydney Cove. Created by a convict, Francis Fowkes.
1796: Shows the areas selected in Cumberland County for 'principle cultivation and farming'.
1792: Nautical chart showing Cumberland County harbours, heads, bays and the location of fresh water.
1793: Early impressions of the Cumberland Plain describing the quality of the land for cultivation.
1799: Grimes' and Flinders' topographical plan of the settlements of NSW.
1802: Leseur's 'Plan de la ville de Sydney'. Map provides a key to locations including the 'Magasin des liquers fortes et salaisons'.
1807: Copy of Meehan's plan of Sydney with a key for leaseholders.
1816: Land around Government House, showing also Mrs Macquarie's seat.
1814: Burr and Ballisat's plan showing Crown grants of land. This map is accompanied by a list of grantees.
1815: This copy of Grimes map has been annotated with French place-names by explorer Louis de Freycinet.
1817: James Wyld's map listing the quality of, as yet, ungranted land.
1822: Key sites and public buildings as well as outlines of buildings.
1821: A sketch of the town of Sydney that shows public buildings, private houses and 'an excellent Town Quay'.
1828: St John in the Hundred of Parramatta.
1837: Sydney Relief Map to accompany letter to Surveyor General on sewerage and drains.
1831: Sketch showing allotments and road used by inhabitants beyond Cooks' River.
1835: The 13 'Hundreds' were gazetted in 1835. Usage of this administrative division of land was abandoned in the 1880s.
1842: Copy of an 1842 Plan of South Sydney with allotment sales of the Redfern estate.
1843: Wells' beautifully engraved and detailed map of Sydney.
1844: Baker's plan shows parishes and police districts and geographical features such as 'Bondi Bay'.
1840: Well's map includes some property owners' names and acreage.
1853: Mitchell's trigonometrical survey of Port Jackson showing developments to the east and the north of the city.
1854: Identifies important locations, outlines of buildings and the railway, which opened the following year.
1858: Part 1: Illustrates the expansion of the city and includes roads, railways, public buildings and reserves.
1858: Part 2: Illustrates the expansion of the city and includes roads, railways, public buildings and reserves.
1854: Smith & Hinton's map showing outlines of buildings and city wards. Includes a key to 45 places.
1859: Mitchell's Basin of the Nepean showing the Hawkesbury Nepean catchment area.
1865: Morell's proposed plan of the Harbour's defences provides an insight into Sydney's fear of raids by Britain's rivals.
1868: Plan of the Naval reception for the Duke of Edinburgh.
1864: Wells' map showing land grants, railways and parish boundaries.
1873: This map contrasts the town of Sydney of 1802 with the city of Sydney in 1873.
1873: Plan of the Circular Quay with proposed wharf accommodation.
1875: Illustrates the growth of the city's infrastructure.
1872: Principal postal 'towns', their population and geological information as well as telegraph lines, roads and railways.
1876: Sand's six mile circuit map of Sydney and suburbs.
1888: A bird's eye view map of Sydney that reflects the city's expansion and industrial growth.
1889: Plan of the municipality of Redfern including built structures, sewers and street lamps.
1884: Nautical chart of Port Jackson created by the British Hydrographic Department.
1888: The incidence of cholera and other diseases are shown on this map.
1891: Sketch map of Sydney and inner suburbs showing existing and proposed tram routes.
1894: One of a series of colour coded block plans of stores and warehouses, this one with related letter.
1894: Block plans annotated with fire-related features such as structural materials, location of staircases and water mains.
1894: Shows tramway lines and stopping places, ferry routes and landmarks.
1897: Population distribution in County Cumberland.
1905: Pictorial bird's eye view map showing places of interest and ferry routes.
1906: Part 1: Sydney CBD business directory with index to individuals, businesses and government buildings.
1906: Part 2: Sydney CBD business directory with index to individuals, businesses and government buildings.
1900: Shows projected tramways, main roads and ferry routes.
1910: Map used to monitor fire alarms and hydrants.
1911: Shows wharves erected, proposed, altered and demolished and rat proof retaining wall.
1913: Royal Commission recommendations for the Constitution of Greater Sydney.
1913: Another bird's eye view of Port Jackson and greater Sydney.
1919: Bird's eye view of Port Jackson and greater Sydney.
1923: Shows proposed 'North Shore Bridge', and underground railway lines proposed and under construction.
1924: Sydney's wharf accommodation.
1925: 'North Shore Bridge' now under construction. Railway lines, tramways and ferry routes also shown.
1927: Martin Place extension, land to be resumed.
1921: Population distribution of the County Cumberland.
1926: Proposed reconstruction of the main roads of the County of Cumberland.
1928: Sydney and suburban railways and tramways.
1932: Iconic memento map issued for the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
1935: Bird's eye view map by renowned Sydney artist, Adrian Feint.
1940: Fire Underwriters' association: a useful source for names of buildings and their owners.
1944: Locations of hostels and recreation for Allied Service personnel shown.
1944: Guide map to Sydney produced for British servicemen.
1940: Index to suburbs and municipalities giving population and number of dwellings.
1948: The County of Cumberland Planning Scheme - a plan for post-war growth.
1948: County of Cumberland Planning Scheme presentation copy with signatures.
1952: Includes a list of the streets and lanes of Sydney.
1951: County of Cumberland Planning Scheme general representation.
1952: One of three sheets of a more detailed view of the County of Cumberland Planning Scheme.
1958: Greater Sydney's daily traffic reveals some surprising statistics.
1960: Sydney's water supply system showing reservoirs, channels, tunnels, pipelines and catchment areas.