Conference paper
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Abstract: In this paper, we suggest that hotels play a very important part in the urban economies of central business districts. To illustrate this, we explore the biography of the Sydney Hilton, opened in 1974 and recently totally refurbished and re-opened. We argue that hotels can be understood as civic landmarks, where localized business elites and the local state coalesce to ensure their successful construction, where commercial activity is understood within an ideology of civic pride. Within this context, however, the design and appearance of hotels is driven by both their use value and exchange value. We trace a biography of the Sydney Hilton through three phases of its operation, considering its place within the backdrop of the reconstitution of Sydney’s CBD, and the broader urban economy. We conclude that the refurbishment of the Hilton can thus only be understood by considering wider issues of corporate brand, asset ownership and the requirements of the local state.

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