Collins Street, Melbourne

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Collins Street
Melbourne Collins Street Architecture.jpg
Collins Street, between Russell Street and Exhibition Street looking east
Coordinates 37°49′00″S 144°57′44″E / 37.8168°S 144.9622°E / -37.8168; 144.9622Coordinates: 37°49′00″S 144°57′44″E / 37.8168°S 144.9622°E / -37.8168; 144.9622
General information
Type Street
Length 2 km (1.2 mi)
Major junctions
West end North Wharf Road, Docklands
  Harbour Esplanade
Spencer Street
King Street
William Street
Queen Street
Elizabeth Street
Swanston Street
Russell Street
Exhibition Street
East end Spring Street, East Melbourne
Suburb(s) Melbourne CBD

Collins Street is a major street in the centre of Melbourne, Victoria in Australia. It is known for its grand Victorian architecture, prestigious boutiques and high-end retailers.[1] Collins Street has served as Melbourne's traditional main street since 1837 and was laid out as a core feature of the Hoddle Grid.[2]

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" 1850s gold rush period.[1] 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.[2][3]

Collins Street was named after Lieutenant-Governor David Collins who led a group of settlers in establishing a short-lived settlement at Sorrento.[1]


Aborigines at Collins Street, Melbourne, 1839. Watercolour by W. Knight

19th Century[edit]

Undated view of Collins Street

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.[1]

Looking down Collins Street from Southern Cross Station

At the western end of the street was Batman's Hill, named for the Tasmanian adventurer and grazier John Batman, who built a house at the base in April 1836, where he lived until his death in 1839.[4]

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.[1]

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.[5]

20th Century[edit]

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.[6]

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.[7] While some examples of boom style architecture survive, the grandest examples were lost to the wrecker's ball.[8] 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.[2] 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.

One of the most popular public art statues in Melbourne, Larry La Trobe created by artist Pamela Irving, faces Collins Street from the northern end of Melbourne City Square.

The facade of the Collins Street Bank of New South Wales was relocated to become the University of Melbourne Commerce building.

21st Century[edit]

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,[9] 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.


Collins Street viewed from Queen Street
Temple Court apartments, c. 1923

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 Commercial Bank of Australia Limited 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.[10]

Shopping and boutiques[edit]

Louis Vuitton, 139 Collins Street

Collins Street is Melbourne's premier shopping street and retailers with flagship stores there include: Prada,[11] Louis Vuitton,[12] Emporio Armani,[13] Tiffany & Co,[14] BVLGARI,[15] Giorgio Armani, Dior, Ralph Lauren,[16] TAG Heuer,[17] Paspaley, Cartier,[18] Gucci, Ermenegildo Zegna, Bally, Coach, Max Mara, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana, Christian Louboutin, Chopard, Tom Ford, Hugo Boss, Van Cleef & Arpels, Rolex, Georg Jensen, Paul Smith, Thomas Pink, Stuart Weitzman, Longchamp, Lloyd, Wolford, Montblanc, Franck Muller, Harrolds.[19] Major shopping centres include Collins Place, Block Arcade, Georges on Collins, St. Collins Lane, Collins 234, and Centreway.

Noteworthy businesses[edit]

Tea house storefront of Hopetoun on Collins Street displaying cakes and pastries.

Two theatres, the Athenaeum and Regent theatres, are both located on Collins Street. These theatres host Australian and international productions and live performances throughout the year.

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.

Ghost sightings[edit]

Collins Street has been a popular stop over for local ghost tours, with a number of apparent sightings especially around the historical Docklands area. [20][21][22]


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.[23]


See also[edit]

Australia road sign W5-29.svg Australian Roads portal


  1. ^ a b c d e Judith Buckrich: Collins – The Story of Australia's Premier Street, 2005, ISBN 1-74097-057-8
  2. ^ a b c Melbourne, School of Historical Studies, Department of History, The University of. "Collins Street - Entry - eMelbourne - The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online". Retrieved 2017-01-14. 
  3. ^ "Our Backyard". City Cite • Melbourne City Education Experience. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  4. ^ "Batman, John (1801–1839)". Australian Dictionary of Biography, Online Edition. Retrieved 6 July 2008. 
  5. ^ see Alex Taylor, Perils of the Studio: Inside the Artistic Affairs of Bohemian Melbourne,Australian Scholarly Publishing & State Library of Victoria: North Melbourne, 2007
  6. ^ "Doing the block, Collins St | Ergo". Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  7. ^ "Forget me not: Melbourne’s glorious buildings". Retrieved 2017-01-15.  C1 control character in |title= at position 25 (help)
  8. ^ Annear, Robyn (2005). A city lost & found : Whelan the Wrecker's Melbourne. Black Inc, Melbourne. ISBN 1863953892. 
  9. ^ "Operations". Newsrail. Australian Railway Historical Society. January 2003. p. 25. 
  10. ^ "Melbourne School of Design unveiled". ArchitectureAU. Retrieved 2017-01-15. 
  11. ^ "PRADA Australia flagship store Collins Street > Shopping". 15 April 2008. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  12. ^ "Collins Street Precinct – Home". Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  13. ^ "Collins Street and Little Collins Street, Melbourne". Visit Melbourne. Tourism Victoria. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  14. ^ "Tiffany & Co. | Tiffany Jewelry Store | Melbourne Collins Street | Australia". Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  15. ^ "Bvlgari opens flagship in Melbourne". Jewellery World. 30 September 2011. Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  16. ^ "store+makeover,1238". Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  17. ^ "TAG Heuer Melbourne – 330 Collins Street Melbourne, Victoria – TAG Heuer Australia". Retrieved 29 January 2012. 
  18. ^ "Cartier Australia flagship store Collins Street > Shopping". 15 April 2008. Retrieved 15 February 2012. 
  19. ^ Safe, Georgina (16 June 2010). "Tom Ford's single outlet". The Australian. 
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^ You Are Here (15/01/2017). "Inner Melbourne - Precinct and Transport Connections".  Check date values in: |date= (help)