Exhibition Street, Melbourne

Exhibition Street is a major street in the central business district of Melbourne, Australia. The street is named after the International Exhibition held at the Royal Exhibition Building in 1880, and was previously known as Stephen Street from 1837. The street runs roughly north-south and was laid out as part of the original Hoddle Grid.[1]

Exhibition Street

Stephen Street

Exhibition Street Melbourne.jpg
Exhibition Street looking north from Bourke Street
Exhibition Street, Melbourne is located in Melbourne
Exhibition Street
Exhibition Street
General information
Major junctions
North endVictoria Street
 La Trobe Street
Lonsdale Street
Nicholson Street
Bourke Street
Collins Street
South endFlinders Street
Suburb(s)Melbourne CBD


Situated in the east of the Melbourne city centre, Exhibition Street is a major thoroughfare for city traffic.

At its southern end, Exhibition Street becomes Batman Avenue after its intersection with Flinders Street and the Batman Avenue Bridge. Batman Avenue links the central business district to the Monash Freeway, and the section immediately south of Flinders Street is also known as the Exhibition Street Extension. At its northern end it becomes Rathdowne Street, which runs along the western edge of the Carlton Gardens, Royal Exhibition Building and Melbourne Museum.


Founding as Stephen StreetEdit

Stephen Street, as Exhibition Street was originally known, was established in April 1837 as one of the eight north-south streets on Robert Hoddle's original survey of Melbourne. Stephen Street was named as a tribute to Sir James Stephen, the Permanent Undersecretary for the British Colonies in London who was at the peak of his power within the Colonial Office at the time of the naming of the streets in the Hoddle Grid.[2]

In 1847, the Eastern Market was opened on the corner of Stephen Street and Bourke Street. It was the second major market in Melbourne, after the Western Market. It was intended to be Melbourne's main fresh food market, but it proved less popular than the Queen Victoria Market, and eventually became closer to an amusement park. It was demolished in 1960.[3]

Renaming to Exhibition StreetEdit

Stephen Street was renamed Exhibition Street by Melbourne City Council on 5 December 1898.[1] It was renamed to celebrate the 1880 International Exhibition and the 1888 Centennial Exhibition, both held at the Royal Exhibition Building during the boom time of Marvellous Melbourne. The change only applied to the portion of Stephen Street north of Collins Street. The remainder was called Collins Place, and kept that name until it became part of Exhibition Street in 1963.[4]

Exhibition Street ExtensionEdit

The Exhibition Street Extension project was announced by the State Government in 1997 and opened in October 1999,[5][6] with CityLink operator Transurban operating the road and collecting tolls from road users.[7]

The project included a four lane divided road over the Jolimont railyards, enabling Batman Avenue west of Melbourne Park to be closed. In addition the route 70 tram was removed from Swan Street, and rerouted to dedicated tracks between the sporting precinct and the railway lines, before crossing the new bridge and turning into Flinders Street. The Exhibition Street Extension was not part of the initial CityLink project announcement, as it had been promoted as a bypass that would keep cars out of the CBD.[8]

Notable buildingsEdit

Exhibition Street is a commercial district lined by skyscrapers and home to many of Melbourne's tallest buildings. It is also home to many heritage buildings listed on the Victorian Heritage Register and/or classified by National Trust of Australia. These include:

The Herald and Weekly Times Building, prior to the addition of the skyscraper Eight Exhibition Street

Listed BuildingsEdit


See alsoEdit

  Australian Roads portal


  • "Exhibition Street (Melbourne)". Emporis Buildings. Retrieved 31 July 2006.
  1. ^ a b "City of Melbourne - Roads - Exhibition Street". City of Melbourne. Archived from the original on 31 August 2007. Retrieved 29 April 2016.
  2. ^ J. E. Egerton. "Stephen, Sir James (1789 - 1859)". Australian Dictionary of Biography Online. www.adb.online.anu.edu.au. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  3. ^ Melbourne, School of Historical Studies, Department of History, The University of. "Eastern Market - Entry - eMelbourne - The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online". www.emelbourne.net.au. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  4. ^ Melbourne, School of Historical Studies, Department of History, The University of. "Exhibition Street - Entry - eMelbourne - The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online". www.emelbourne.net.au. Retrieved 26 January 2017.
  5. ^ Exhibition Street Extension Transit Australia September 1997 page 213
  6. ^ "Exhibition Street Extension Opening" (PDF). www.transurban.com.au. 26 October 1999. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  7. ^ VicRoads. "Project Overview : CityLink". www.vicroads.vic.gov.au. Archived from the original on 23 July 2008. Retrieved 17 July 2008.
  8. ^ Public Transport Users Association. "Myth: The purpose of freeways is to bypass congested areas". www.ptua.org.au. Retrieved 17 July 2008.