Sunday, January 24, 2010

Walking Melbourne...again

It's been a while since I dragged out my Walking Melbourne guided tour book and set off the the city, but that's what I did today and I'm almost finished. I've now visited 207 of the 235 buildings and landmarks listed.

I should have it knocked over in just one more afternoon (or perhaps a few lunchtimes, since the section I've yet to cover is near where I work) and then I'll be able to cross it off my list of 101 Things to do Before I'm 40.

Today I discovered:

* 'Commit No Nuisance', which appears on restored 19th century signs on the side of the Methodist Mission in Chinatown is a euphemism for 'do not urinate'!

* Celestial Lane in Chinatown is so named because in the late 1800s and early 1900s, the white population used to call the Chinese "Celestials", from "subjects of His Celestial Majesty".

* Behind the 1970s aluminium facade of the Target building on Bourke Street is the fantastic facade of Hoyts De Luxe, Melbourne's first 'luxury' cinema, which was built in 1915. It's a shame it's covered over with something so bland and unremarkable, but at least it wasn't demolished. (I can't find a decent picture of the facade online, but if you click here, and scroll down to the picture of Foy & Gibson Department Store, the Hoyts De Luxe is the building just to the right of Foys.)

* Before 1901, there were no public toilets for women in the city, but there were urinals for men. Looks like the inadequate provision of facilities for women has a long history... The first public toilet for women was built underground in the middle of Russell Street - only part of the railing at street level remains.

* In 1900 "arguably the world's first full-length narrative moving picture" Soldiers of the Cross was produced by the Salvation Army at the Limelight Studios on the rooftop of its headquarters on Bourke Street (now undergoing refurbishment).

* My best discovery was this well-preserved three room cottage at 17 Casselden Place - in the area once known as Little Lon, which in the late 1800s was the dodgy part of town, home to the poor, prostitutes, petty criminals and opium dens.

The cottage is the only one remaining of a terrace of six built in the 1870s. You can still see traces of the adjoining terrace house.

It's so well tucked away, I had no idea it was there...or maybe I did, but I forgot. There was an archaeological dig in this area in the late 1980s before the construction of a large office building. More than 17,000 items were removed from the site and they are now held by the Museum of Victoria. No doubt these were among the artifacts I saw at the Museum's Melbourne Story exhibition last year.  

According to my guide, it's the last remaining dwelling in the area (near the corner of Spring Street and Little Lonsdale) and it was built by John Casselden, who was a shoemaker and developer.
I walked 12 kilometres on my wanderings and made a pit-stop at Brunetti's at City Square for a hot chocolate and baci biscuit before heading home well worn out.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that. I want a 'Walking Sydney' book so I can do the same in Sydney. Very interesting.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. Now I want to find a 'Walking Sydney' book and start exploring my city!

Andrew said...

Good effort. Re the female toilet, I heard that when it was opened young men used to gather to watch the ladies go in, no doubt their minds working feverishly.

Frisky Librarian said... of many numbers and letters. Welcome. It's a National Trust publication - maybe they have done one for Sydney too?

Hey Andrew. Hehe. It seems that modesty and delicate sensibilities were the reason there were no women's public toilets earlier than that and why they were built underground. Men can't hear you tinkle when you're underground, I guess...

a work in progress said...

that cottage looks so cute! I wonder what it is like inside...

does some one actually still live in it or is an office or somesuch now?

the linky-link was great too - i like looking at old pics of places :) Fred once bought me a gift of a book Paris:Then and Now - photos of the same places way back when and present-day. They have them of lots of major cities worldwide, maybe there is one of melbourne...i shall investigate :)

Frisky Librarian said...

Hi AWIP. There is a Melbourne: Then and Now and I finished reading it a couple of weeks ago! It's very interesting and I learnt a few things from it...although I was most unimpressed with their reference to the Royal Botanical Gardens. It's Botanic, dagnammit!

I tried to have a look over the back gate of the cottage to see what I could see, but it was just high enough that I couldn't get a really good look. I think it is used for something, but I don't know what. I doubt anyone lives in it.

A friend was telling me yesterday that she's fairly sure the cottage is included in a walking tour of haunted Melbourne. Definitely going to check it out.

dam buster said...

Nice shots FL. I remember there was a rumour of trying to find the long lost Parliamentary baton when they were doing the dig. Apparently it was stolen from Spring Street and used to pay a drug/gambling/whore debt!