Queen Victoria Building Celebrates 120 Years

33 million people enjoy the building each year.

She's the Queen of Sydney architecture.

And celebrating her 120th birthday on Tuesday, the Queen Victoria Building has never looked better.

The majestic Romanesque shopping arcade even gave up a few secrets from the past.


City of Sydney historian Laila Ellmoos revealing while the QVB was designed as a fruit and vegetable market -- it housed some secret treasures.

"From 1900 for 50 years the basement of the building was actually used for cellaring wine, Lindemans and Penfolds," Ellmoos said.

"The conditions down there were perfect for cellaring wine because it was very cool in the heart of the city."

With the town crier Bill Wallace ringing in the party, Lord Mayor Clover Moore spoke fondly of the building she helped bring back to its past glory.

"It lifts your spirits whenever you come into it," Moore said.

"In a way it is sadly characteristic of Sydney that it was slated on many occasions for demolition -- unbelievably described as an eyesore by architect Harry Seidler.

"Happily the people of Sydney ensured its survival.

"I am very pleased to say I was an enthusiastic member of the Queen Victoria Restoration Committee when I became a Sydney alderman in 1981 until the opening in 1986 so I have a great sense of ownership of this wonderful building."

Image: PETER PARKS/AFP/Getty Images

Designed by the city architect George McCrae, it took five years to build and was opened in 1898 by the Mayoress of Sydney, Francis Harris with a bespoke golden key.

"The celebrations on that occasion included a Grand Ball for 1000 people and at different times the building has housed a music hall, a Sydney county council, the City of Sydney library and of course an astounding array of shops," Moore said.

Now more than 33 million people visit the QVB every year.

And as a special birthday tribute they can place a lock with their own special memory of the regal building on a five metre high gold keyhole, named the QVB Memory Lock.