Albert Park, Auckland

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Fountain viewed from northern side
The band rotunda near the south end of the park

Albert Park is a scenic park in central Auckland, bounded by Wellesley Street East, Princes Street, Bowen Avenue and Kitchener Street. From the entrance at the corner of Bowen Ave and Kitchener St, sealed footpaths climb steeply through native trees to the large flat area at the summit, where flower gardens encircle a fountain.

To the north of the cast iron fountain (1881) is the bronze statue of Queen Victoria (1897); to the south is a bandstand (James Slator 1901). A large floral clock, constructed in 1953 with funds donated by Robert Laidlaw, founder of the Farmers department store chain, lies near the Princes Street exit in front of the University of Auckland clock tower.

There are other artworks and memorials in the park, including the marble Boer War memorial and a statue of Sir George Grey (1904), relocated to this spot from its first location outside the Auckland Town Hall. Many of these memorials and artworks can be seen in the numerous images of Albert Park printed as postcards since the early 20th century.[1]

Albert Park occupies much of the site of the Albert Barracks, one of Auckland's early European military fortifications, which in turn was built on the previous site of Te Horotiu pa. The barracks were converted into a public park in the 1880s, which originally had commanding views over the city and harbour. The view now is of modern office blocks, except where mature trees have hidden the buildings. A portion of the barracks wall survives on the University of Auckland campus nearby.

Beneath the park are the Albert Park tunnels. This extensive series of tunnels was built in 1941 to be used as air raid shelters, but they were sealed up after World War II, and generally forgotten.

Albert Park lies beside the site of one of the earliest volcanoes in the Auckland Volcanic Field, which erupted beneath the current Victoria Street carparks and the 'Metropolis' hotel/apartments entrance building (the former Auckland District Court). While primarily a very small scoria cone, it also sent a lava flow into the Queen Street valley, and coated the pre-existing sandstone Albert Park ridge with ash (Albert Park is not itself the location of a volcano). The lava flow temporarily dammed the stream running down the Queen Street valley creating a swamp upstream. This flat sector of the valley can now be recognised between Wellesley and Victoria Streets.

The diminutive scoria cone was substantially quarried away for roading and building material during the establishment of the city in the late 19th century, although a slight rise in Kitchener Street adjacent the carparks remains as the only physical remnant now visible.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ See the compilation of images by Jeff Pyle [1]

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Coordinates: 36°51′03″S 174°46′03″E / 36.8507°S 174.7675°E / -36.8507; 174.7675