March 23, 2014

Horse 1640 - Ten Suburbs. No.12 Chatswood 2067

I imagine that once upon a time, Chatswood would have been similar to Roseville in character but those days are long gone. Chatswood is a far more vibrant and lively place than Roseville could even hope to be.
Legend has it that the name Chatswood derives from the then Mayor of Willoughby, Richard Harnett, who named the suburb after his wife Charlotte. Charlotte was known as "Chattie" and thus the area was named Chattie's Wood, which was later shortened to Chatswood.

At some point probably during the 1970s because of a plan to decentralise government services, Chatswood was picked upon as the new location of several departments including the then Department of Construction and Housing and the Australian Taxation Office.
As the area grew in importance, several shopping centres would begin to occupy the area including the Wallaceway, Chatswood Chase and the Mandarin Centre but looming to one side of Victoria Avenue and opening in 1986 was Westfield. This massive behemoth temple to the great god Dollar, has so far managed to eat one city block, jump another, infect two more with its tentacle car parks and if it is allowed to go unopposed, will continue to devour everything in its path.
Not content with just Westfield, the Interchange Arcade which once connected Chatswood Railway Stattion to Victoria Avenue, has been equally voracious. The new Chatswood Transport Interchange which was opened in 2008 following the construction of the Epping-Chatswood rail link, devoured Orchard Road and was only halted by the pedestrian mall of Victoria Avenue.

- Stolen from Google Maps

Chatswood though, unlike Roseville is far more multicultural. Chatswood which is far more business oriented than sleepy little Roseville, became a place where lots of cultures blend together in the name of selling things. Almost two-thirds of people living in Chatswood were born overseas and a little over a quarter of the population speaks either Mandarin or Cantonese as their first language. The Chinese Cultural Centre is now 15 years old and is an active member of the life of the suburb.

Chatswood still does manage to retain some of its older character though. Chatswood Oval and Beauchamp Oval are examples of quaint little fields which wouldn't be out of place in an English village. Architecturally, there are a wide number of styles when it comes to public buildings and churches and the interior of Our Lady Of Dolours church is simply stunning.

Unlike a suburb like Parramatta though, Chatswood goes to sleep at about 6pm. After about that time, when Westfield closes and the shops on Victoria Avenue shut their doors, it can be a bit of a ghost town and is a wee bit scary. Maybe if Chatswood Oval hosted an A-League team of something, there'd be a reason for Chatswood to stay awake but I suppose that even though it has a cinema complex, it just has never reached that sort of critical mass yet.

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