Collins Street, Melbourne
Row of Victorian buildings along Collins Street
|Length||1.6 km (1.0 mi)|
|West end||Docklands, Melbourne|
|Spencer Street, King Street / Kings Way, William Street, Queen Street, Elizabeth Street, Swanston Street, Russell Street, Exhibition Street|
|East end||Spring Street, East Melbourne|
Collins Street is a major street in the central Melbourne running approximately east to west. It is notable as Melbourne's traditional main street and best known street. It is also often regarded as Australia's premier street, has several fine Victorian era buildings, is the home of prestigious boutiques and high-end retailers and was for a long time the centre of finance in Australia. The eastern end of the street was known as the 'Paris end' because of its former architecture, now remembered in the nineteenth century "Marvellous Melbourne" mythology.
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. Collins Street was named after 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 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.
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. It 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" became a pastime for shoppers at the Block Arcade area in the retail heart of the street between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets.
The Bank of New South Wales Melbourne office earned architect Joseph Reed a first prize in architecture. When the building was demolished in 1935, the facade was transferred to the University of Melbourne to become the Commerce building and is now retained on the facade of the new building being constructed for the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning.
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 Spencer Street, starting with the opening of the bridge over Southern Cross station and Wurundjeri Way on 18 December 2002, with the street currently ending outside the new ANZ and Myer headquarters further in the Docklands development. It will eventually extend further west in the future, as part of the new redevelopment. This will 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).
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.
There are many hotels located on Collins Street. Major hotels include: Sofitel Melbourne on Collins, The Grand Hyatt Melbourne, The Westin Melbourne, Novotel Melbourne on Collins, InterContinental Melbourne at the Rialto.
The Melbourne Club is on Collins Street. The renaissance revival style buildings were 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.
Most of the global investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Lazard have their Melbourne headquarters located on Collins Street, with the majority in the prestigious 101 Collins Street. This contributes to the reputation that Collins Street enjoys to this day.
Trams (routes 11, 12, 48 and 109) run down Collins Street, mainly to Melbourne's eastern suburbs and the Docklands precinct.
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
- Judith Buckrich: Collins – The Story of Australia's Premier Street, 2005, ISBN 1-74097-057-8
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