Exhibition Street, Melbourne

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Exhibition St, looking north from Bourke St

Exhibition Street is a major street in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia. The street is named after the International Exhibition held at the Royal Exhibition Building in 1880.[1]


Exhibition Street runs roughly north-south, perpendicular to the Yarra River. At its southern end it flows into Batman Avenue, at the intersection with Flinders Street. Batman Avenue links the central business district to the Monash Freeway, and the section immediately south of Flinders Street is also known as the Exhibition Street Extension. At its northern end, it flows into Rathdowne Street, which runs along the western edge of the Carlton Gardens.


Stephen Street, as Exhibition Street was originally known, was established in April 1837 as one of the eight north and south streets on Robert Hoddle's original survey of Melbourne.

Garryowen surmises a few years after its naming that "Stephen Street is a tribute to a permanent under-secretary of state for the colonies".[2]

It is suggested that it was named after Sir James Stephen, the Permanent Underdersecretary for the Colonies in London who was at the peak of his power within the Colonial Office at the time of the naming of the streets of Hoddles Grid.[3] Alternatively, it could have been named after his father of the same name who died in 1832 after a distinguished career in the service of England.

In 1847, the Eastern Market was opened on the corner of Stephen Street and Bourke Street. It was the second major market in Melbourne, after the Western Market. It was intended to be Melbourne's main fresh food market, but it proved less popular than the Queen Victoria Market, and eventually became more of an amusement park. It closed in 1960.

Stephen Street, was renamed Exhibition Street to celebrate the 1880 International Exhibition and the 1888 Centennial Exhibition held at the Royal Exhibition Buildings during the 1880s boom times of 'Marvellous Melbourne'. Its name was officially changed by the Melbourne City Council on 5 December 1898.[1] The change only applied to the portion of Stephen Street north of Collins Street. The remainder was called Collins Place, and kept that name until it became part of Exhibition Street in 1963.

The Exhibition Street Extension project was announced by the State Government in April 1998 and opened in October 1999,[4] with CityLink operator Transurban operating the road and collecting tolls from road users.[5] The project included a four lane divided road over the Jolimont railyards, enabling Batman Avenue west of Melbourne Park to be closed. In addition the route 70 tram was removed from Swan Street, and rerouted to dedicated tracks between the sporting precinct and the railway lines, before crossing the new bridge and turning into Flinders Street. The Exhibition Street Extension was not part of the initial CityLink project announcement, as it had been promoted as a bypass that would keep cars out of the CBD.[6]


Exhibition Street is a commercial district lined by skyscrapers and home to many of Melbourne's tallest buildings. It is home to the Reserve Bank of Australia building, ANZ Tower, Australia Post House and the Telstra Corporate Centre. In late 2005, accounting firm Ernst & Young moved into the newly built Ernst & Young Tower on the corner of Exhibition and Flinders Street - the site of the former The Herald and Weekly Times Ltd building.

Her Majesty's Theatre and Comedy Theatre are both situated on Exhibition Street.

Melbourne's Marriott Hotel is situated on the corner of Exhibition Street and Lonsdale Street, in addition to a Rydges Hotel, and the Mantra at 100 Exhibition Street (formerly the Pacific International).

See also[edit]

Australia road sign W5-29.svg Australian Roads portal


  1. ^ a b "City of Melbourne - Roads - Exhibition Street". City of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 31 July 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2016. 
  2. ^ "Melbourne Street Names". www.whitehat.com.au. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  3. ^ J. E. Egerton. "Stephen, Sir James (1789 - 1859)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. www.adb.online.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  4. ^ "Exhibition Street Extension Opening" (PDF). www.transurban.com.au. October 26, 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-07-20. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  5. ^ VicRoads. "Project Overview : CityLink". www.vicroads.vic.gov.au. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 
  6. ^ Public Transport Users Association. "Myth: The purpose of freeways is to bypass congested areas". www.ptua.org.au. Retrieved 2008-07-17. 

Coordinates: 37°49′01″S 144°58′23″E / 37.81694°S 144.97297°E / -37.81694; 144.97297