The story of Armidale's rise, fall and slow recovery is mirrored in the city's built landscape.
The city's expansion over the last two decades of the 19th century is mirrored in the large generally brick homes and commercial buildings concentrated in the CBD and on South Hill.
While little evidence remains of Armidale's manufacturing base, the generally weatherboard workmen's cottages built for industrial and railway workers remain, especially in West Armidale.
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By the mid 1920s, the still small city was prosperous enough, although growth had stalled. Then in 1927 came the decision to establish the Armidale Teachers' College.
I explored the remarkable story of its establishment in an earlier series of columns. For the present, it brought staff and students to Armidale that compensated many times over for the 1926 shift of St John's Theological College to Morpeth.
Construction also began on one of Armidale's most iconic buildings, the Parthenon on the Hill.
In 1929 the Great Depression struck. Around Australia, a third of the workforce lost their jobs.
Even as depression struck, construction of the new college building was pushed ahead, pumping money into the local economy. There were fears that the College might close, but the project was too far advanced.
Staff and student numbers were cut, but then recovered as the depression began to ease. Armidale grew from 4738 people in 1922 to 6794 in 1933.
In terms of the built landscape, the 1920s saw the emergence of the California bungalow that forms such an important part of the Armidale streetscape. Then, in the 1930s, came the art deco period seen in some Beardy Street buildings in particular as increased wealth translated into new or modified buildings.
We now come to the most important development of all, the establishment of the New England University College (NEUC), opening in 1938.
Like the Teachers' College, the establishment of NEUC came about because of a combination of particular events external to Armidale.
Yes, funding from particular New England families such as the Whites was critical. Yes, the local organising committee played a critical role. Yes, Armidale's existing educational structure was important.
But all these things would have failed had it not been for a basic fact: as with the Armidale Teachers' College, the new university college was seen as a Northern endeavour, one that drew support from across Northern NSW.
In my next column I will carry the story through into Armidale's rapid growth period.