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George Street, circa 1905

This view shows George Street, looking south from the corner of King Street.

At one time the intersection of George and King Streets was the busiest in Sydney. By 1920, eight million tram movements a year crossed this point. Before the invention of traffic lights, busy intersections were controlled by the police, and in the case of tramway operations, by signal box staff. Busy intersections existed where King Street intersected with George, Pitt, Castlereagh and Elizabeth Streets. Tramway signal boxes once stood at each intersection.

The tramway system was built to serve the City and suburbs and over 30 per cent of all passengers were carried within the "City Section" (roughly the Central Business District of today). By the mid 1920s over 30 million passengers a year were carried along Pitt and Castlereagh Streets alone.

Before the construction of the underground railway system (between 1926 and 1932), peak hour tram loadings were impressive. Almost 90,000 passengers boarded trams in George, Pitt, Castlereagh, King and Elizabeth Streets during a typical weekday afternoon peak period in 1925. The peak lasted about 90 minutes.

A boarding rate of almost a thousand passengers per minute in the City was made possible by the design of the trams – they had multiple entrances and there were conductors on every vehicle. Average "dwell time" at stops was around 12 seconds. At sporting events the trams often achieved a boarding rate of 1100 passengers a minute. The trams didn't stop, but slowed to a walking pace and passengers scrambled boarded en mass.