Melbourne is the capital and most populous city in the state of Victoria, and the second most populous city in Australia. The name "Melbourne" refers to an urban agglomeration area (and census statistical division) spanning 9,900 km2 (3,857.2 sq mi) that comprises the greater metropolis – as well as being a common name for its metropolitan hub, the Melbourne City Centre. It is a leading financial centre in Australia as well as the Asia-Pacific region, and has been ranked the World's most livable city since 2011 (and among the top three since 2002) – according the Economist Intelligence Unit. Melbourne is rated highly in the areas of education, entertainment, healthcare, research and development, tourism and sports.
It is located on the large natural bay of Port Phillip, with its City Centre situated at the northernmost point of the bay – near to the estuary of the Yarra River. The metropolitan area extends south from the City Centre, along the eastern and western shorelines of Port Phillip, and expands into the hinterlands – toward the Dandenong and Macedon mountain ranges, Mornington Peninsula and Yarra Valley. The City Centre is located in the municipality known as the City of Melbourne, and the metropolis consists of a further 30 municipalities. Melbourne has a population of 4.25 million, and the fastest growing population among Australian capital cities. Inhabitants of the city are called Melburnians.
Founded on 30 August 1835 (in what was then the Colony of New South Wales), by settlers from Launceston in Van Diemen's Land, it was incorporated as a Crown settlement in 1837. It was named "Melbourne" by the Governor of New South Wales, Sir Richard Bourke, in honour of the British Prime Minister of the day, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne. It was declared a city by Queen Victoria in 1847, before becoming the capital city of the newly created Colony of Victoria in 1851. During the Victorian gold rush of the 1850s, it was transformed into one of the world's largest and wealthiest cities. After the federation of Australia in 1901, Melbourne served as the interim seat of government for the newly created nation of Australia until 1927.
An international centre for performing and visual arts, Melbourne is often referred to as Australia's cultural capital. It is the birthplace of Australian dance styles; the Melbourne Shuffle and New Vogue, the Australian film industry (including the world's first feature film), Australian impressionist art (known as the Heidelberg School), Australian rules football, and the Australian television industry. In more recent years, it has been recognised as a UNESCO City of Literature and a major centre for street art. It is home to many of Australia's largest and oldest cultural institutions such as the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Melbourne Cricket Ground, Melbourne Museum, Melbourne Zoo, the National Gallery of Victoria and the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Royal Exhibition Building.
The main passenger airport serving the metropolis is Melbourne Airport, which is the second busiest in Australia, and the Port of Melbourne is Australia's busiest seaport for containerised and general cargo. The main metropolitan train terminus is Flinders Street Station, and the main regional train and coach terminus is Southern Cross Station. Melbourne is also home to the world's largest tram network.
Early history and foundation
Before the arrival of European settlers, the area was occupied for an estimated 31,000 to 40,000 years by under 20,000 hunter-gatherers from three indigenous regional tribes: the Wurundjeri, Boonwurrung and Wathaurong. The area was an important meeting place for the clans of the Kulin nation alliance and a vital source of food and water.
The first European settlement in Victoria was established by Colonel David Collins in October 1803, at Sullivan Bay, near present-day Sorrento, but this settlement was relocated to what is now Hobart Tasmania in February 1804, due to a perceived lack of resources. It would be 30 years before another settlement was attempted.
In May and June 1835, the area which is now central and northern Melbourne was explored by John Batman, a leading member of the Port Phillip Association in Van Diemen's Land (now called Tasmania), who negotiated a purchase of with eight Wurundjeri elders. Batman selected a site on the northern bank of the Yarra River, declaring that "this will be the place for a village". Batman then returned to Launceston in Tasmania. In early August 1835 a different group of settlers, including John Pascoe Fawkner, left Launceston on the ship Enterprize. John Pascoe Fawkner was forced to disembark at Georgetown, Tasmania because of outstanding debts. The remainder of the party continued and arrived at the mouth of the Yarra River on 15 August 1835. On 30 August 1835 the party disembarked and established a settlement at the site of the current Melbourne Immigration Museum. John Batman and his group arrived on 2 September 1835 and the two groups ultimately agreed to share the settlement.
Batman's Treaty with the Aborigines was annulled by the New South Wales government (which at the time governed all of eastern mainland Australia), which compensated the association. In 1836, Governor Bourke declared the city the administrative capital of the Port Phillip District of New South Wales, and commissioned the first plan for the city, the Hoddle Grid, in 1837. Later that year the settlement was named "Melbourne" after the British Prime Minister, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, whose seat was Melbourne Hall in the market town of Melbourne, Derbyshire. On 13 April 1837, the settlement's general post office was officially opened with that name.
Between 1836 and 1842, Victorian Aboriginal groups were largely dispossessed of territory bigger than England. By January 1844, there were said to be 675 Aborigines resident in squalid camps in Melbourne. Although the British Colonial Office appointed 5 "Aboriginal Protectors" for the entire Aboriginal population of Victoria, arriving in Melbourne in 1839, they worked ". . . within a land policy that nullified their work, and there was no political will to change this". "It was government policy to encourage squatters to take possession of whatever [Aboriginal] land they chose, ... that largely explains why almost all the original inhabitants of Port Phillip's vast grasslands were dead so soon after 1835". By 1845, fewer than 240 wealthy Europeans held all the pastoral licences then issued in Victoria and became the patriarchs " . . . that were to wield so much political and economic power in Victoria for generations to come".
Melbourne was declared a city by letters patent of Queen Victoria, issued on 25 June 1847. The Port Phillip District became the separate Colony of Victoria in 1851, with Melbourne as its capital. With the Aboriginal population dispossessed of their lands and their management of fire having been disrupted for almost 15 years, the Colony experienced for the first time its largest-ever bushfires, burning about 25% of the land area of Victoria on Black Thursday on 6 February 1851.
Victorian gold rush
The discovery of gold in Victoria in 1851 led to the Victorian gold rush, and Melbourne, which served as the major port and provided most services for the region, experienced rapid growth. Within months, the city's population had increased by nearly three-quarters, from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants. Thereafter, growth was exponential and by 1865, Melbourne had overtaken Sydney as Australia's most populous city.
An influx of interstate and overseas migrants, particularly Irish, German and Chinese, saw the development of slums including a temporary "tent city" established on the southern banks of the Yarra. Chinese migrants founded a Chinatown in 1851, which remains the longest continuous Chinese settlement in the Western World. In the aftermath of the Eureka Rebellion, mass public support for the plight of the miners in Melbourne resulted in major political changes to the colony. The various nationalities involved in the Eureka Stockade revolt and Burke and Wills expedition give some indication of migration flows in the second half of the nineteenth century.
The population growth and flow of gold into the city helped stimulate a program of grand civic building beginning with the design and construction of many of Melbourne's surviving institutional buildings including Parliament House, the Treasury Building and Treasury Reserve, the Old Melbourne Gaol, Victoria Barracks, the State Library, Supreme Court, University, General Post Office, Government House, Customs House the Melbourne Town Hall, St Paul's, St Patrick's cathedrals and several major markets including the surviving Queen Victoria Market. The city's inner suburbs were planned, to be linked by boulevards and gardens. Melbourne had become a major finance centre, home to several banks, the Royal Mint to Australia's first stock exchange in 1861. Grand private buildings also were built in this era, including the Athenaeum Hall and several large hotels. The aboriginal population continued to decline with an estimated 80% total decrease by 1863, due primarily to introduced diseases, particularly smallpox, frontier violence and dispossession from their lands.
Land boom and bust
The economic boom of the Victorian gold rush peaked during the 1880s, by which time Melbourne had become the richest city in the world, and the largest after London in the British Empire. Melbourne hosted two international exhibitions at the large purpose-built Exhibition Building between 1880 and 1890, spurring the construction of several prestigious hotels including the Menzies, Federal and the Grand (Windsor).
In 1855 the Melbourne Cricket Club secured possession of its now famous ground, the MCG. Members of the Melbourne Football Club codified Australian football in 1859, and Yarra rowing clubs and "regattas" became popular about the same time. In 1861 the Melbourne Cup was first run. In 1864 Melbourne acquired its first public monument—the Burke and Wills statue. In 1880 a telephone exchange was established and in the same year the foundations of St. Paul's Cathedral were laid; in 1881 electric light was installed in the Eastern Market building, and in the following year a generating station capable of supplying 2,000 incandescent lamps was in operation. In 1885 the first cable tram in Melbourne was built. Cable tramways were in general use until the 1920s, when they were superseded by electric motors. Electric trams were introduced into the suburbs in 1906.
During a visit in 1885 English journalist George Augustus Henry Sala coined the phrase "Marvellous Melbourne", which stuck long into the twentieth century and is still used today by Melburnians. Growing building activity culminated in a "land boom" which, in 1888, reached a peak of speculative development fuelled by consumer confidence and escalating land value. As a result of the boom, large commercial buildings, coffee palaces, terrace housing and palatial mansions proliferated in the city. The establishment of a hydraulic facility in 1887 allowed for the local manufacture of elevators, resulting in the first construction of high-rise buildings; most notably 1889's APA (The Australian) Building, the world's tallest office building upon completion and Melbourne's tallest for over half a century. This period also saw the expansion of a major radial rail-based transport network.
A brash boosterism that had typified Melbourne during this time ended in 1891 with a severe depression of the city's economy, sending the local finance and property industries into a period of chaos during which 16 small banks and building societies collapsed and 133 limited companies went into liquidation. The Melbourne financial crisis was a contributing factor in the Australian economic depression of the 1890s and the Australian banking crisis of 1893. The effects of the depression on the city were profound, although it recovered enough to grow slowly during the early twentieth century.
Federation of Australia
At the time of Australia's federation on 1 January 1901, Melbourne became the seat of government of the federation. The first federal parliament was convened on 9 May 1901 in the Royal Exhibition Building, subsequently moving to the Victorian Parliament House where it was located until 1927, when it was moved to Canberra. The Governor-General of Australia resided at Government House in Melbourne until 1930 and many major national institutions remained in Melbourne well into the twentieth century.
In the immediate years after World War II, Melbourne expanded rapidly, its growth boosted by Post war immigration to Australia, primarily from Southern Europe and the Mediterranean. While the "Paris End" of Collins Street began Melbourne's boutique shopping and open air cafe cultures, the city centre was seen by many as stale, the dreary domain of office workers, something expressed by John Brack in his famous painting Collins St., 5 pm (1955).
Height limits in the Melbourne CBD were lifted in 1958, after the construction of ICI House, transforming the city's skyline with the introduction of skyscrapers. Suburban expansion then intensified, serviced by new indoor malls beginning with Chadstone Shopping Centre. The post-war period also saw a major renewal of the CBD and St Kilda Road which significantly modernised the city. New fire regulations and redevelopment saw most of the taller pre-war CBD buildings either demolished or partially retained through a policy of facadism. Many of the larger suburban mansions from the boom era were also either demolished or subdivided.
To counter the trend towards low-density suburban residential growth, the government began a series of controversial public housing projects in the inner city by the Housing Commission of Victoria, which resulted in demolition of many neighbourhoods and a proliferation of high-rise towers. In later years, with the rapid rise of motor vehicle ownership, the investment in freeway and highway developments greatly accelerated the outward suburban sprawl and declining inner city population. The Bolte government sought to rapidly accelerate the modernisation of Melbourne. Major road projects including the remodelling of St Kilda Junction, the widening of Hoddle Street and then the extensive 1969 Melbourne Transportation Plan changed the face of the city into a car-dominated environment.
Australia's financial and mining booms between 1969 and 1970 resulted in establishment of the headquarters of many major companies (BHP Billiton and Rio Tinto, among others) in the city. Nauru's then booming economy resulted in several ambitious investments in Melbourne, such as Nauru House. Melbourne remained Australia's main business and financial centre until the late 1970s, when it began to lose this primacy to Sydney.
As the centre of Australia's "rust belt", Melbourne experienced an economic downturn between 1989 to 1992, following the collapse of several local financial institutions. In 1992 the newly elected Kennett government began a campaign to revive the economy with an aggressive development campaign of public works coupled with the promotion of the city as a tourist destination with a focus on major events and sports tourism. During this period the Australian Grand Prix moved to Melbourne from Adelaide. Major projects included the construction of a new facility for the Melbourne Museum, Federation Square, the Melbourne Exhibition and Convention Centre, Crown Casino and the CityLink tollway. Other strategies included the privatisation of some of Melbourne's services, including power and public transport, and a reduction in funding to public services such as health, education and public transport infrastructure.
Since the mid-1990s, Melbourne has maintained significant population and employment growth. There has been substantial international investment in the city's industries and property market. Major inner-city urban renewal has occurred in areas such as Southbank, Port Melbourne, Melbourne Docklands and more recently, South Wharf. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Melbourne sustained the highest population increase and economic growth rate of any Australian capital city in the three years ended June 2004. These factors have led to population growth and further suburban expansion through the 2000s.