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Melbourne City - A Brief HistoryHere you will find some facts and general information about the city of Melbourne, Australia. A lot of other sites have similar (if not better) content to this (have a look at some of the sites on the links page for more info), so I have tried to give it my spin.
PopulationMelbourne is the capital of Victoria, Australia, and home to close to 4 million people. Many of the citizens of Melbourne live in the suburbs that east and south of the Yarra River, sprawled around Port Phillip Bay and extending as far east as Mount Dandenong.
HistoryMelbourne is the youngest of all of the 'world cities'. Melbourne grew from a tiny speculative pastoral outpost in the 1850s into a world city within a mere 30 years, reaching around 1 million people by the turn of the century. Much of this phenomenal growth was due to the gold rush - one of the biggest in the world's history, which saw a huge influx of migrants bring instant wealth and propsperity to the city. In the 1880's Melbourne was given the title 'Marvellous Melbourne', and boasted a city that rivalled the great cities of Europe and North America. The city hosted the 1880 World's Fair, in the Royal Exhibition Building, which hosted the first parliament and still stands in the magnificent Carlton Gardens. The city was, until Canberra was built in the late 1920s, from 1901 the federal capital of Australia. Although Sydney eventually grew larger, Melbourne still remains the financial, sporting and cultural capital of the nation.
The grand domed Royal Exhibition Building Carlton Gardens as it was, during the 1880 World's Fair. The annexes were gradually demolished in the 1950s and 60s.
1880s boomtime panorama of one of the world's earliest great skyscraper cities. 1950s council fire regulations ensured that only a handful of examples are left.
The 13 storey Queen Anne styled Australian Building in Melbourne is claimed by some to be the world's tallest in 1889 (although it was probably 3rd or 4th tallest). Stripped down and gutted in the 1950s before final demolition in 1980.
A triumphal Federation Arch which decorated Princes Bridge in 1901, the end of it also marked the beginning of Melbourne's decline from Australia's largest and most important city.
ArchitectureCourtesy of the gold rush and the 1880s land boom, much of inner Melbourne has a distinctly Victorian architectural character. The stock of boomtime buildings was further enhanced in the 1920s and 1930s, by many elegant pre-war buildings. Much of early Melbourne character has been destroyed post the 1956 Olympic games by a wave of modernism and Internationalism urban renewal that gives parts of downtown Melbourne a feel similar to that of downtown Chicago or New York. More recently, the architectural fabric of the city has been somewhat sympathetically restored through the postmodern architecture movement of the 1990s. Just a sample of Melbourne's collection of great buildings can be found within this site.
CultureThe city is one of the world's most multi-cultural cities. For example, Melbourne has the world's third largest Greek population - and the largest outside of Greece. Only Athens and Thessalonki boast larger Greek populations. The culture contributes to the city's reputation as Australia's culinary capital, with many fine restaurants representing cuisines from around the world.
Melbourne is the undisputed sporting capital of Australia, hosting international evenst such as the 1956 Olympics, the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix, Australian Open Tennis, 2006 Commonwealth Games and Australian Rules Football grand final. The Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG or the 'G' as it is affectionately known here) is a world famous venue for both cricket and football.
Melbourne is Australia's comedy capital, and hosts the world's second biggest comedy festival outside of Edinburgh.
The city is Australis's home of the Arts, with internationally reknowned Arts precinct and film festival.
The ClimateThe climate in Melbourne is a very touchy topic with locals. Due to it's southern position, the city has a temperate climate. Cold and wet in winter (although it doesn't snow in the city), hot and dry in summer. Because of the situation on the bay, Melbourne weather can be fickle and changing, often windy. This has given Melbourne the reputation of having "Four Seasons in one Day", and this is often, quite literally, the case. Many Melbourne mornings begin with a thick, low fog. Melbourne also produces a fantastic twilight most evenings that can frequently give the sky a surrealistic glow.
TransportThe city is home to the world's second largest tram and light rail network. The tram network is the only remaining network in an Australian capital city, and is being constantly extended to serve the outer suburbs. The city is famous for it's 'green rattlers' or W class trams from the 1950s, although they are now accompainied by more modern counterparts. Flinders Street, one of the world's busiest railway stations and longest platforms creates a constant flow of pedestrian traffic in the heart of the city. 'Under the Clocks' is a favourite Melbourne meeting place.
Trams, cars and pedestrians all meet outside of Flinders Street Station
Inner MelbourneInner Melbourne is a highly urban city that features strip shopping, terrace housing and high rise apartments. By contrast, outer Melbourne is one of the world's largest suburban sprawls and home to over 80% of the city's population. Many of the older suburbs still feature their original cobbled bluestone streets. Bluestone being one of the favoured building materials in Melbourne until the turn of the century.
Grand 19th century boulevardes, including Royal Parade, Victoria Parade, St Kilda Road and Dandenong Road act as gateways into the city.
The CBDThe Melbourne Central Business district is laid out in a uniform grid pattern, unique to an Australian city. The Melbourne CBD grid is large in comparison to other Australian cities, but not as dense in high rise construction as others. Recent extensions to the CBD in Southbank and Docklands is seeing this central area nearly double in size. The streets are distinctly wide compared to the other Australian capitals and accomodate a central tram line down most streets as well as 2 directional street traffic and parking. This creates an airy and open feel to the city, and makes it very accessible, accomodating a large volume of pedestrian traffic. Many of the city streets are lined with grand old deciduous plane trees, giving the city a European character.
The SkylineThe CBD skyline is broken up into 2 distinct skylines, the eastern and western. Both have significant clusters of tall modern buildings, dominated by 5 of the 10 tallest towers in the country, each on average 50 storeys in height, many with spires, and the largest in the southern hemisphere - the sleek glassy Rialto Towers. In between is the a height limited retailing district. St Kilda road is a massive tree lined avenue, with it's very own skyline composed of hundreds of medium height limited towers. Significant new skylines are emerging outside of the CBD at Southbank and the new Docklands precinct.