Books & Literature

Book Review: City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 Years On, by Lance Campbell & Mick Bradley

75 years after ‘Progressive Adelaide’ recorded our city in photos, Mick Bradley and Lance Campbell retrace the same steps to see how the city has evolved.

This magnificent display book deserves pride of place in any home. The glossy hardcover binding is large, at 43.5 x 28cm, making it the idea centrepiece for any book collection.

Within its thick, glossy pages is a treasure trove of facts and images from Adelaide’s past, presenting a then-and-now photo-essay that may be the largest of its kind in the world. It’s a new edition of a previously published tome and an absolute must-have for any collector or lover of history and architecture.

The book is based on Progressive Adelaide – As It Stands Today, which captured Adelaide’s landscape for the centenary celebrations back in 1936. Photographer Gustav Hermann Baring captured the city in images in a massive undertaking that resulted in one of the most extraordinary records there was. To pay for the venture, he sold advertising, which appeared in the book, inadvertently capturing the lifestyle and psyche of the city too.

75 years later, photographer Mick Bradley and writer Lance Campbell retraced Baring’s steps, capturing those same images again to compare how the city has evolved. The result is City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 Years On.

The large pages feel luxurious, with each long turn slowly unveiling the next secret of our city’s past. The combination of old black and white photos and their more modern colour counterparts are a feast for the eyes, while Campbell’s easy-to-read text is informative but unobtrusive in its position along the bottom of the pages. Many of the photos are long, capturing the streets as well as the buildings and it’s fascinating to see how many facades we have kept and how many buildings we have lost over three quarters of a century.

The photos are divided into streets and areas of the city, opening with King William Street before moving along North Terrace and others, and ending in Victoria Square. Many of those old ads from Progressive Adelaide have been republished as well, adding even more interest to this already-fascinating glimpse at days gone by.

Interestingly, Adelaide has already progressed beyond the later images in this book, which were taken circa 2011. That doesn’t make the book dated, by any means, but allows the reader to continue the journey in their mind beyond what the authors have captured. If anything, this re-release of City Streets should be even more interesting now from our position of seeing Adelaide’s lifestyle and landscape continuing to adapt and change.

City Streets: Progressive Adelaide 75 Years On is one of the best books to be published on our State, for both content and presentation. It’s a large, weighty book that simply begs to be seen. You too, will give it pride of place on your shelves.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 10:  10

Released by: Wakefield Press
Re-Release Date: June 2017
RRP: $79.95 hardcover

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