Swanston Street, Melbourne

Swanston Street, Melbourne

Swanston Street is a major thoroughfare in the centre of Melbourne, Australia. It is the main street of Melbourne and is part of the Hoddle Grid, the layout of major streets that makes up the central business district, which was laid out in 1837 by Robert Hoddle. It is named after Captain Charles Swanston, a Tasmanian banker and prominent member of the Port Phillip Association.

Swanston Street runs roughly north to south, between Elizabeth and Russell streets, just to the east of the centre of the rectangular Hoddle Grid. After crossing the Princes Bridge over the Yarra River at its southern extremity, it becomes St Kilda Road. As it runs north and leaves the CBD, it passes the University of Melbourne, and ends at the Melbourne General Cemetery. This section was originally named Madeline Street.

Swanston Street was a major thoroughfare, funnelling traffic from the northern suburbs onto St Kilda Road, but as of the 1990s it was closed to daytime private through traffic between Flinders and La Trobe Streets, roughly half its length. This section is known as Swanston St Walk. Nine tram routes run along the street, and the frequency of trams is the highest in Melbourne. It has two railway stations: Flinders Street Station at its southern end, which is the hub of the suburban railway network; and Melbourne Central station, an underground station beneath the Melbourne Central shopping centre, at La Trobe Street. Swanston Street is also a major route for commuting cyclists from the University of Melbourne and the northern suburbs, through the city, joining up to the bike lanes on St Kilda Road, and the Capital City Trail on the Southbank of the Yarra River.

Swanston Street passes a number of Melbourne landmarks, including St Paul's Cathedral, Federation Square, Flinders Street Station, the Melbourne Town Hall, the State Library of Victoria, the City Square, the Melbourne Central and QV Village shopping centres, the pub Young & Jackson as well as the Hi-Fi Bar, which is a prominent live music venue. Both the University of Melbourne and RMIT University are on Swanston Street.

Swanston Street has historically not had the best of reputations, due to problems with homelessness and loitering, and a plethora of discount stores, fast food outlets, and sex shops. However, in recent years, after lobbying from local traders, the Melbourne City Council has begun to turn the street's image around, enticing many new shops to move in, and driving several major developments.

Many protests involve the use of Swanston Street, resulting in road closures. It is also used for the annual Anzac Day parade, which passes through much of the city centre, but uses Swanston Street as a centrepiece on its way to the Shrine of Remembrance in St Kilda Road.

Swanston Street was also the shooting location for the 1976 video for AC/DC's song "It's a Long Way to the Top (If You Wanna Rock 'n' Roll)".


(from south to north)


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