From the busy days before the turn of the 20th century to its post-Depression recovery and beyond, Britomart's buildings have seen times of great change.
What a bustling scene! This photo (above) was taken in 1890s from one of the wharves stretching from Quay Street into the Waitematā Harbour. Behind the ships, you can see Britomart at left, with Maungawhau/Mount Eden standing majestically in the distance.
Left: Yes, we know it looks like it says ‘Toilet’, but it’s TO LET i.e. there’s space available. This 1899 pic on Customs Street East near the Commerce Street intersection shows the Excelsior and Stanbeth Buildings – although only half of Excelsior House remains today, as the other half was sliced off in 1935 to allow the widening of Commerce Street. Nowadays the buildings are completely shipshape and there’s no space to let, with Café Hanoi and Shaky Iles on the ground floor and Generator upstairs.
Right: Britomart’s beautifully planted Te Ara Tahuhu walking street looked rather different back in 1902 when it was a train station. This shot looks west towards the end of Queen Street (you can see the Customs House building looming high at centre left) and the water, much more present in the city centre prior to reclamation north of Fanshawe Street. Commerce Street now runs through the centre of where the railway station stands in this photo – the station was moved to Beach Road in Parnell when the street was put through in the 1930s.
Left: Quay Street looked very different back in 1903. Here you can see The Northern Steamship Company Limited (now where The Brit Pub and Eatery is located) which was only three years old when this picture was taken. On the other side of the railway you can see the Nathan Building, which is now known as the Australis Nathan building, before the other half of it was built.
Right: This photo was taken between 1900 and 1908 and shows Old Sofrana House on Customs Street West standing tall. It was originally built in 1898 as a warehouse for watch and jewellery importers P. Hayman & Co.
Customs St East was a lively boulevard in 1910. The picture shows how busy it used to be and features the trams that used to run along it. You can see the Excelsior and Stanbeth Buildings, as well as Australis Nathan further down the street.
This photo was taken in 1931 somewhere around Emily Place and looks along Customs Street East past The Australis Nathan Buildings (now home to Tiffany & Co), Buckland Building, Masonic House, Stanbeth House and Excelsior House towards the Central Post Office (now Britomart Transport Centre) and the Ferry Building.
Left: Pictured here is the Charter House with a bunch of men posing outside with their vehicles. There were mechanics’ workshops in the area, so this might be the reason for all the cars. This photo was taken some time in the 1940s at the intersection of Customs St East and Britomart Place. Today it is home to Ryder Salon on the ground floor. To the right of the building you see the Kiwi Tavern building, which is now home to Mexico.
Right: This photo shows the Buckland Building that sits on the corner of Customs Street West and Gore Street, taken some time during the 1930’s. The Buckland Building shares a facade with Masonic House next door and both buildings are currently being refurbished as part of The Hotel Britomart project.