Collins Street, Melbourne
|Collins Street, between Russell Street and Exhibition Street looking east|
|Length||2 km (1.2 mi)|
|West end||North Wharf Road, Docklands|
| Harbour Esplanade
|East end||Spring Street, East Melbourne|
Collins Street is a major street in the centre of Melbourne,Victoria in Australia. Regarded as Australia's premier street, it is known for its grand Victorian architecture, prestigious boutiques and high-end retailers. Collins Street has served as Melbourne's traditional main street since 1837 and was laid out as a core feature of the Hoddle Grid.
The eastern end of Collins Street is known colloquially as the 'Paris End' due to its numerous heritage buildings, shopping boutiques and alfresco dining culture, features immortalised as part of the "Marvellous Melbourne" 1850's gold rush period. The western end of the street is increasingly referred to as the 'New York End' due its modern glass skyscrapers and history as the financial heart of Melbourne, home to various banks and insurance companies.
As laid out by the surveyor Robert Hoddle, it was exactly one mile in length and one and half chains (99 feet (30 m)) wide. The street was named for Lieutenant-Governor David Collins who led a group of settlers in establishing a short-lived settlement at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula, south of Melbourne, in the early 19th century. He subsequently became the first governor of the colony of Van Diemen's Land, later to become the state of Tasmania.
The first major street improvements were carried out in the mid-1850s, including bluestone curbs and gutters, and the introduction of gas lighting in 1855. The first street trees were elms, planted in 1875. A cable tram line was laid in 1886 and was operational until 1930 when it was electrified.
Throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the top end of Collins Street was dominated by the rooms of medical professionals. The prestigious Melbourne Club was a dominant cultural presence after its founding in 1838. Collins Street was also the location of Grosvenor Chambers (9 Collins Street) which was Australia's first custom designed studio complex, and was used by many prominent Australian artists.
Around the turn of the 20th century "doing the Block," or walking around in one's finest clothing to be seen, became a pastime for shoppers at the Block Arcade in the retail heart of Collins street, between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets.
During the 1950s and 1960s, the street became subject to extensive redevelopment and many historic buildings were demolished by Whelan the Wrecker, despite the efforts of the National Trust and the "Save Collins Street" group. While some examples of boom style architecture survive, the grandest examples were lost to the wrecker's ball. Of the major losses, the most significant were the large Victorian buildings including the Federal Coffee Palace, Colonial Mutual Life building, Robb's buildings, Queen Victoria Buildings, City of Melbourne Bank, Scott's Hotel, Melbourne Mansions and APA building. Many of the buildings destroyed in this era were documented by architectural photographer Mark Strizic and can be found in the archives of the State Library of Victoria.
Between 2003–05, Collins Street was extended west beyond its previous termination at Spencer Street, starting with the opening of the bridge over Southern Cross station and Wurundjeri Way on 18 December 2002, with the street ending outside the new ANZ and Myer headquarters further in the Docklands development. It has since been extended further west to create an intersection between Bourke Street and Collins Streets, two of Melbourne's most important streets.
As Melbourne's commercial and former shopping centre, Collins Street possesses some of Melbourne's best examples of Victorian architecture. Large churches include the Collins Street Baptist Church (1845), the St Michael's Uniting Church (1866) and the Scot's Presbyterian Church (1874).
Significant commercial buildings include Alston's Corner (1914) by Nahum Barnet is an excellent surviving example of Edwardian architecture, while the Block Arcade by D.C Askew (1893) is an excellent example of high Victorian mannerist architecture. Towards the financial end are some great examples of high Victorian gothic architecture or "Cathedrals of Commerce". They include William Pitt's Venetian Gothic style Old Stock Exchange (1888), William Wardell's Gothic Bank (1883) which features some of Melbourne's finest interiors and A.C Goode House designed by Wright, Reed & Beaver (1891).
The old Commonwealth Bank of Australia Banking domed Chamber exists within the post modern 333 Collins Street tower. It was designed by Lloyd Tayler and Alfred Dunn and built in 1891. Some of Australia's tallest buildings are along Collins Street, including the Rialto Towers, Collins Place towers 1 & 2, Nauru House, 120 Collins Street and 101 Collins Street and ANZ World Headquarters (at 380 Collins Street, which is integrated into the old Stock Exchange and Gothic Bank).
The Bank of New South Wales Melbourne building, completed in 1857, earned architect Joseph Reed a first prize in architecture. When the building was demolished in 1935, the facade was transplanted to the University of Melbourne in Parkville to become the then Commerce Building. It is now retained on the facade of the new building being constructed for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
Shopping and boutiques
Collins Street is Melbourne's premier shopping street and retailers with flagship stores there include: Prada, Louis Vuitton, Emporio Armani, Tiffany & Co, BVLGARI, Giorgio Armani, Dior, Ralph Lauren, TAG Heuer, Paspaley, Cartier, Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna, Bally, Coach, Max Mara, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Louboutin, Tom Ford, Hugo Boss, Rolex, Georg Jensen, Paul Smith, Thomas Pink, Stuart Weitzman, Longchamp, Lloyd, Wolford, Montblanc, Franck Muller, Harrolds. Major shopping centres include Collins Place, Block Arcade, Georges on Collins, St. Collins Lane, Collins 234, and Centreway.
There are many hotels located on Collins Street, with major hotels including the Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, The Grand Hyatt Melbourne, The Westin Melbourne, Novotel Melbourne on Collins and the InterContinental Melbourne at Rialto.
The Melbourne Club, a prestigious private social club estbablished in the 19th century is located in renaissance revival style buildings designed by Leonard Terry and built in 1845.
The Reserve Bank of Australia's Victorian branch is located on Collins Street. Its 1960 buildings were once the national office for the bank. Similarly, most global investment banks with a presence in Melbourne, such as Goldman Sachs and Lazard, have their headquarters located on Collins Street. The majority are located within the prestigious 101 Collins Street, contributing to the reputation that Collins Street enjoys to this day.
Melbourne Tram routes 11, 12, 48 and 109 run down Collins Street through the city centre, mainly to terminuses in Melbourne's eastern suburbs, Port Melbourne and the Docklands precinct. Collins Street is also served by Parliament railway station in the east and Southern Cross railway station in the west.
Nauru House, 80 Collins Street
St Michael's Uniting Church (at night), 122 Collins Street
Baptist Church, 174 Collins Street
Regent Theatre. 191 Collins Street
The Block Arcade. 282 Collins Street
Former Bank of Australasia. 394 Collins Street
Rialto Towers. 525 Collins Street
The Age Building. 655 Collins Street
Collins Street, evening. 1931 painting by Clarice Beckett
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