What’s the oldest suburb in Melbourne?
Boasting the coolest street in the world, Fitzroy is Melbourne’s oldest suburb.
Only 3km north-east of the Central Business District in the City of Yarra, it covers 100ha and is the smallest and most densely populated area outside the CBD.
Smith Street, which divides Fitzroy and Collingwood, was recently crowned the world's coolest street in a Time Out poll. The vibrant inner-north drinking, dining, shopping and live music destination topped its city counterparts in Paris, London and New York.
Fitzroy was created in 1839, when the area between Melbourne and Alexandra Parade was subdivided into vacant lots and offered for sale. In 1858, it became a municipality.
Named after Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, the Governor of New South Wales from 1846 to 1855, its Kulin name is ngár-go.
Surrounded by a large number of factories and industrial sites, the suburb housed the working class population from the 1860s to the 1880s. Mansions became boarding houses and slums, and the poverty of the area prompted the establishment of charitable organisations.
Fitzroy is made up of tightly spaced pockets, a legacy of its early history, with many of its narrow streets and back lanes allowing only one-way traffic.
The suburb features some of the finest examples of Victorian architecture, with many buildings and streetscapes covered by heritage overlays.
Confectionery factories established by local entrepreneur Macpherson Robertson still stand today, while the site of the Fitzroy Gasworks, erected in 1861, will become a vibrant urban village.
Many of Fitzroy's residents moved to the outer suburbs in the late 1930s and their homes were occupied by post-war migrants, mainly from Italy and Greece.
Before World War I, Fitzroy was a working-class neighbourhood, while post-war immigration resulted in the area becoming socially diverse. Many Chinese migrants settled in Fitzroy due to its proximity to Chinatown, and now there are noticeable Vietnamese, African, Spanish and Latin American communities.
Fitzroy underwent a process of gentrification during the 1980s and 1990s, with the area's manufacturing and warehouse sites converted into apartments. It has one of the most expensive rents in Melbourne and one of the largest public housing complexes, Atherton Gardens.
In 2016, Fitzroy had a population of 10,445 and is known as a cultural hub, particularly for its live music scene and street art, and is the main home of the Melbourne Fringe Festival.
Its commercial heart is Brunswick Street, one of Melbourne's major retail, culinary, and nightlife strips.