What was lost

NIcholas-Caire-Collins-St

Nicholas Caire, Collin Street, Melbourne, 1902

Did you know that Victoria had a second Gold Rush, 100 years after the first?

The wealth of this state and its capital city was established by the discovery of gold in the 1860s. Money poured out of the ground and much of it went into building Marvellous Melbourne, the great international city of the late 19th century.

The image above shows the great avenue of Collins Street, Melbourne’s pride until the 1970s and in my experience only equalled by Madrid’s Gran Via, which still stands. Collins Street does not. Of the grand Victorian buildings you see here, not one remains.

That second gold rush was the mad scramble by institutions and property developers to rebuild on the valuable urban land. It meant the destruction of the Victorian architectural fabric and its replacement by mediocre examples of international modernism A photograph from the same viewpoint today would show some of most uninspired modern architecture you could find anywhere in the world. At least we have Nicholas Caire’s Collins St.

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