Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Walking Down the Street

Today, I'm going to learn some Melbourne street history.

I'm still using the City of Melbourne site. They have a whole page about streets.

We start with Collins Street. First let me go find it on Google Maps.

Collins Street goes from around the Docklands to the west side of Fitzroy Gardens. I think. I could be reading the map wrong.

It's known for shopping...the expensive type.

Who is it named after?

Mr. Collins.

David Collins. He was another Tasmanian guy wanting to explore the Port Phillip area. He's the one who came BEFORE Fawkner and Batman. He came decades before with a group of settlers. But then they left in 1804. I guess they weren't happy.

Lord Wiki says that Collins later became the first Governor of Van Diemen's Land. Well, actually he was governor of only the south bit. Back then, the island was divided into a north part and a south part.

Wow. The City of Melbourne site REALLY goes into detail here. It might be challenging to wade through all this information. But it could be fun, so I'll do it.

If we go to the corner of Collins and William Street, we'll be at the place where Batman once had a house. I wish I could see it on Street View. Unfortunately, my computer will no longer allow me to do that. My computer is REALLY outdated. Tim's computer is with him at work in Dallas, and Jack is using his computer. So....no street view for me.

I can see what businesses are around there. There's Bicycle Victoria. Tim might like that place.

I thought it was a bike shop, but it's actually an organization. They're trying to increase biking in the world. Cool.

Some of this is kind of boring to me.....

I'm going to skip over it.

On Collins Street, between Russell Street and Swanson Street, you have this Athenaeum Place. It's a theatre, library, and maybe more. I don't know. Here's the library website.

It used to be a mechanics institute. I'm not sure what that means. I guess it would be a place where you learn mechanics?

Okay. Here's something interesting. Collins Street used to be very wet and muddy. In the 1840's, you'd have to wear mud boots to get around/across it.

Now I'm getting an explanation for the Mechanics Institute. It was a place for discussion and debate. What I'm getting is that they simply changed the name later to Athenaeum.

In 1845, the first Baptist Church in Melbourne was opened on Collins Street. Several years later, the congregation outgrew their building, and a new church was built. This second church was finished in 1862. I think that's the building that's still there today. Although there's been a few additions.

The church is in the same area at the Athenaeum thing.

I guess Melbourne was (maybe still is?) like Manhattan. Different streets are dedicated to different industries/professions. The center of Collins Street was known as the banking precinct, and east of that was the medical precinct.

All right. Now I shall move onto Exhibition Street. Google Maps shows it to be a north-south street, but going kind of diagonal. It goes from the south-west corner of Carlton Gardens to Flinders Street down south.

Exhibition Street used to be called Stephen Street, but they changed it in 1898. I wonder if people still called it Stephen Street for awhile. It's hard to get used to new names. Disney World changed their Disney MGM studios park to Disney Hollywood Studios, but we always still call it MGM.

Not much of what the City of Melbourne site has to say about Exhibition Street interests me, so I'll move onto the next street...

Wait. No. Maybe I'll see if Lord Wiki has something to say. Maybe he knows something that I'll find interesting.

There used to be something called The Eastern Market. It was a food thing, but then later became an amusement park. In 1960, it closed.

Lord Wiki says that Exhibition Street has a lot of tall buildings.

Uh, what else....

There's some kind of street/traffic thing that happened in the late 1990's. It goes way over my head, but it involves collecting tolls and stuff like that. I'm not going to worry myself about it.

Next we have Elizabeth Street. It was NOT named after Queen Elizabeth....who probably wasn't even Queen back then. I think George or Victoria had the throne back in those days. Yeah. This website says it was Victoria.

Elizabeth Street in Melbourne is named after Elizabeth Bourke, that NSW governor who helped Melbourne become a city. Then what about Elizabeth Street in Sydney? Was that not named after Queen Elizabeth either? I assumed it was.

Nope. Lord Wiki says it was named after Macquarie's wife.

I'm looking at Elizabeth Street on Google Maps. It goes north from around the Royal Melbourne Hospital down to Flinders Street.

In the 1840's, it was hard to travel on Elizabeth Street in the winter. There was some kind of drain problem, so I guess the place was messy on one's feet....probably year round.

Here's a nice little book-related story. In 1852, two men (Robertson and Mullen) brought a bunch of books with them. I'm guessing they brought them from wherever they immigrated from. They opened the box of books, and sold them. That sounds fun. Well, and I guess it WAS fun because then Roberts and Mullen decided to open up a bookshop.

It seems it took some time to get their act together, because the shop didn't open until 1860. Eight years? That's a pretty long time. Well, maybe they had other jobs that they weren't ready to leave. Who knows....

Then once the guys opened the shop, they couldn't gets their acts together for long. They abandoned ship. But relatives came along, and kept the shop going. Then in 1960, it was bought by the Angus and Robertson book company. Is that Robertson related to the other Robertson, or is that just a coincidence? From what I'm getting from Lord Wiki, it was probably a coincidence. Maybe they were distant relatives or something.

Next we have Swanston Street.

I'm looking at it on Google Maps. It starts up at The University of Melbourne. Then it goes down, and.....

It changes from yellow to grey. I'm not sure what that means. I think yellow means a road is big and important. So maybe the north part of Swanston Street is bigger? There's a part that says Swanston Street Walk. Maybe cars....

Oh yeah! I'm so stupid. How could I forget? Swanston Street is the no-car street. Is the whole thing no cars, or just the grey part?

Lord Wiki says Mayor Doyle at first said he wanted to return private traffic to Swanston Street. That was met with much opposition. Then he totally changed his tune, and announced that the WHOLE Swanston Street would be car free. I wonder if that's happened yet.

In the 1840's, Swanston Street was yet another wet and dangerous road. I'm sensing a pattern here.

Princes Bridge was opened in 1861, but back then it was called Lennox Bridge. I think I see it on the map, although Google Maps says it's St. Kilda Road. Well, I guess that just means the bridge is part of the road.

Oh! Here's a good piece of trivia. They didn't just change the name of the bridge, they rebuilt it. Who came up with the design? Percy Grainger's Daddy. I wonder if I wrote about that in the Grainger post. Maybe? All I remember off hand about the dad is that he had Syphilis.

I just realized I've been spelling Swanston Street as Swanson Street. I wonder if I've done it in past entries too. Probably. How embarrassing.

Anyway, SwansTon Street was the busiest Melbourne street during the gold rush. If I'm understanding things correctly, many important historical buildings were built around this time. This includes the Museum of Victoria. We'll probably go there. I like dead animal museums.

The Museum of Victoria website says they were established in 1854. I can just picture it. Well, I've had enough gold digging today. Let's go over to the museum and look at some bones.

Now we get to the street closing history. The City of Melbourne folks say it closed in 1991. Well, it closed to cars. So if you wanted to go on the street, you had to walk or take public transportation.

I just had a thought. What would happen to the world if we suddenly outlawed private vehicles. What if all cars were scrapped, and the materials were turned into trains and buses.

It would probably cause some hardships. But I think we'd be doing better ecologically. And I also bet there'd be less obesity.

In 1999, Swanston Street was opened to private traffic, but only at night. 7 am-7 pm. That's not so awful. But I think now it's closed again? Or it's going to close? Maybe one day I'll do a whole Swanson Street post. Then I'll get the full story.

Today in modern times, Swanson Street has a giant TV screen.

Now onto Bourke Street. This is the place that has bookstores.

David Jones is on 310 Bourke Street. We love David Jones!

The City of Melbourne Site says the land that David Jones sits on was bought with a horse and foal.

Wait. I forgot to find Bourke Street on the map.

It goes east-west, starting at the dock on the west, and ending at Spring Street on the east. Spring Street is fairly close to Fitzroy Gardens.

I found David Jones. It's between Swanson Street and Elizabeth Street.

There used to be a wool shop at the corner of Bourke Street and William Street. It looks like there's a train station around there now.

The last street talked about on the City of Melbourne Site is Spencer Street. And then they have a little history on the little lane things.

Spencer Street goes north-south. It starts around the Docklands and goes down to the Yarra River. It curves a bit; it's not perfectly straight or anything.

In the late 1830's, Batman had his home on what would become Spencer Street. The street lies on the area that Batman once cultivated. It's funny how land changes. One day, a place can be a quiet serene area where grass grows and frogs hop. Years later, it's a busy street filled with tourists and their cameras.

The land beneath our house used to be part of a dairy farm. I wonder what it will be two hundred years from now. Will our house still be here?

In the early Melbourne days, there was a block of government buildings in a square made up of Collins, Spencer, Bourke, and King Street.

I see it on Google Maps. There's a quality hotel there. I mean that's the name. I'm not really sure if it's truly of quality. Hopefully.

Well, I can say one good thing about the hotel. Children stay free....well, up to two kids. I guess if you have more than that, you have to pay. I don't think we'll stay there though. As far as I see, they don't have a laundry room there. I think we need a place to do laundry. Otherwise, we're going to have to bring too much clothes.

Governor La Trobe originally wanted the botanical gardens to be over there...well, somewhere on or near Spencer Street. There was some kind of depression in 1843 that prevented it from happening. Then later, he changed his mind.

I guess the 1840's wasn't the only decade of watery dangerous streets. In 1856, a man drowned in a muddy mess on Spencer Street. That's not good.

Now for the cute tiny laneways. In the early 1900's, they were like typical alleyways....or how I imagine alleyways to be. Dark, dangerous...a place to commit crimes. Then in 1990, there was a revival. The little lanes got lighting, street furniture, and new paving. It's pretty awesome that they were able to make things better. I didn't realize the change was made so recently.