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Federation Arch, Sydney

January 31st, 2011 by

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This photograph, taken on 1 January, 1901 shows the inauguration of the Federation of Australia celebrations. Over 250,000 people lined the route of the parade, eager onlookers vying for a space on city building rooftops and at windows can be seen in the background of this imaeg. Taken in Martin Place in Sydney, with the General Post Office building on the left, troops can be seen parading under the ‘Military Colonnade’ arch:

Soldiers of the finest regiments in the service of the Queen marched in the same ranks with Australian soldiers from all the colonies who had fought side by side with regular troops through the South African campaign.

Daily Telegraph, January 2, 1901.

The Arch bears the inscription: “Long life and happiness to Lord and Lady Hopetoun”. John Adrian Louis Hope, 1st Marquess of Linlithgow and the 7th Earl of Hopetoun, was appointed as the first Governor-General of Australia by Queen Victoria in July 1900. Lord Hopetoun did not prove to be popular in his post as Governor-General, either with the general public or the federalist politicians of the day. Making several serious blunders throughout his term, such as the unwise choice of Sir William Lyne, who did not support federation, as Prime Minister and showing a lack of judgment and appreciation of both the symbolism and practicalities of his position, he was soon to abruptly resign in 1902.

The move to unite the six colonies of Australia into one nation had begun in the late 19th century and had proved to be extremely popular with the Australian public, culminating in the successful referendums of 1899 which cemented the idea of Australia as a nation in the popular psyche. To mark the occasion of Federation each state across Australia embarked on a program of Federation Arch building. The use of the arch was partly prompted by the City Beautiful movement, which had begun in the United States, and endorsed the idea of creating harmonious civic designs by employing the use of classic Renaissance design principles such as the use of arches. The Federation Arches were, for the most part, temporary structures which were intended to stand for periods of between several weeks to a year.

The arches rose over the great masses of the people in the gorgeousness of their colours like so many rainbows set against a cloudless sky. The senses were whirled away with the bewildering spectacle, and for moments together buildings, people and arches alike were blended in a dizzy hundred-tinted wave of colour.

The Age, 7 May 1901.

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