Historically known as Emerald Hill, it was one of the first of Melbourne's suburbs to adopt full municipal status and is one of Melbourne's oldest suburban areas, notable for its well preserved Victorian era streetscapes.
South Melbourne's predominant housing is terraced or semi-detached Victorian.
Park Towers is a notable example of Housing Commission of Victoria hi-rise public housing. There are a number of such towers in parts of South Melbourne, built since the 1960s.
In recent years, South Melbourne has seen an increase in population density, due to apartment development in nearby Southbank, where development has spilled over from the Melbourne CBD. To the east, towards the St Kilda Road complex, are many high rise office buildings.
South Melbourne FC is regarded as one of Australia's most successful soccer clubs, with four national titles to their name. They currently play in the Victorian Premier League at Lakeside Stadium, a rectangular stadium built on Lake Oval, the former home ground of the South Melbourne Swans.