City of shadows: inner city crime & mayhem 1912-1948

The extensive collection of police forensic negatives held at the Justice & Police Museum casts a fascinating light on the shadowy underworld of Sydney between the wars.

Within this medium of crime and accident scene photographs we are able to view, sometimes in extraordinary detail, their physical milieu - the mean kitchens, bedrooms and parlours, the pubs, boarding houses, corner shops and residentials, the sheds, garages, back lanes, streets and byways of a Sydney that is both eerily strange but all too familiar.

In 2013 City of shadows returned to the Justice & Police museum. Find out more.

19 November 2005 - 11 February 2007
In the mugshots we encounter people of that world - thieves, breakers, receivers, 'magsmen', 'spielers', 'urgers', 'gingerers', false pretenders, 'hotel barbers', shoplifters, dope users, prostitutes, makers of false oaths - and the occasional murderer.

City of Shadows: Revisited

Join arts writer and photographer Pedro de Almeida as he interviews Sydney Living Museums curator Nerida Campbell and author Peter Doyle about the peculiar and poignant stories of the criminals and crime scenes featured in City of shadows: Sydney police photographs 1912–1948.

Watch City of Shadows videos

City of shadows installation view
City of shadows installation view Photo © Jenni Carter for Sydney Living Museums

Watch some videos relating to the City of Shadows exhibition.