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Queen Street Mall 30th Birthday: James Delahunty

On 13 July 1932, 80 years ago Jas. J. Delahunty opened his first chemist in The City on the corner of Queen and Wharf Streets. Since then, Delahunty Chemists have become an icon of The City and currently have three physical stores in The City as well as an online store.

We spoke to James Delahunty, Jas. J.ís son to get his thoughts on the 30 year evolution of the Queen Street Mall and what involvement he has had in this.

What attracted you to The City and in particular The Queen Street Mall?
I have spent most of my time in and around the Brisbane City, my parents owned The Grosvenor on the corner of George and Ann Streets and that is where I grew up. As well as this, I think The [Queen Street ] Mall in Brisbane is really quite unique, the busyness and its accessibility with car parking and public transport has really made it a place that people visit. It is where the people are, and this is the main reason why I have my businesses in The City.

What do you think is so special about Queen Street Mall?
There are a number of things that make The Mall what it is today. Firstly, I think that the Queen Street Mall is certainly the most successful Mall in Australia, ever since it was first developed people actually came out to The Mall. It was promoted very well and the development gave life to The City. People would be seen promenading along The Mall, especially along David Jones and Myer.

What are some of your memories of Queen Street Mall and what do you think gives it its character?
One great thing about The Mall is the characters that have always been around, today we have Marilyn Munroe but originally, before Queen Street was cut off to cars we had Rock and Roll George. Another important part of The City has been the paper and ticket sellers. In my opinion, these kinds of people really give The Mall its character. And for me, one of the most famous people I have ever served is Ballerina Dame Margot Fonteyn.

What have been the most positive changes to the Mall over the past 30 years?
There have been a lot of positive changes to the Mall. 30 years ago when The Mall first opened it really helped to change things, businesses were shifting and The Mall really changed the dynamics of the retail industry in Brisbane and gave life to the Queensland –based shops.

Obviously, the developments in The Mall have been great, the redevelopment of the Wintergarden will be wonderful, and it looks fantastic. The development of Brisbane Square at the George Street end of Queen Street Mall has been so positive, especially with the Jan Powers markets there on a Wednesday.

What direction would you like to see The Mall move in?
Well I am thrilled to see what The Council is doing with the lanes. I think it is fantastic; there are so many blind spots around the city that can be ulitised to make a more active city heart. Ideally, I would like The Mall to be dug out and have a shopping centre built in underneath. It would also be great to see the pre-war buildings between Albert Street and George Street have a more active shop front that highlights their unique design.

I remember when The Mall first opened in 1982, a time capsule was buried in the Botanic Gardens that will be opened in 2082. It will be very interesting to see what direction The Mall moves in over the next 30 years and in particular the next 70 years.