The debate over who actually named Melbourne's streets, and to whom those names indeed refer, is less important than their evolving role as socio-cultural signifiers.
It was a Richard Bourke not Sir Richard Bourke who named many of Melbourne's streets, but as street names were initially chaulked on blackboards, names were often changed by fancy.
Here are some of the origins...
A'Beckett Street William A'Beckett - Chief Justice of Victoria 1852.
Bourke Street | Sir Richard Bourke, Governor of New South Wales.
Collins Street | Lieutenant Colonel David Collins
Elizabeth Street The wife of Governor Bourke, although there is a difference of opinion. It was stated in a Melbourne publication that it was a compliment paid by Sir Richard Bourke to one of his daughters; but I am assured, on the authority of Mr. Hoddle, that it was meant for Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen of English history. Source: Whitehat.
Exhibition Street (previously Stephen Street) Named after the world-listed Royal Exhibition Building and its 1880 exhibition.
Flinders Street Mathew Flinders - Explorer
Hoddle Street (not in CBD) Robert Hoddle - Surveyor General of Victoria responsible for the Melbourne street grid | Hoddle Street.
King Street Phillip Gidley King - Govenor of N.S.W
La Trobe Street | Charles Joseph La Trobe - First Governor of Victoria.
Interestingly, the suburb of Jolimont got its name from a remark by La Trobe's wife on first seeing what later became Jolimont.. "joli mon" meaning beautiful little hill. Subsequently, the first Government House was erected in Agnes Street (first child), Jolimont.
Little Bourke Street Started as Synagogue Lane, then Little Queen Street, then Bourke Lane. See above for Bourke Street
Lonsdale Street Captain William Lonsdale - 4th Regiment Infantry
Queen Street Queen Adelaide - Wife of William 4th.
Russell Street Lord John Russell - British Prime Minister.
Stephen Street (now Exhibition Street) W.J. Stephens - Under Secretary of the Colonial Office.
Spencer Street Lord John Spencer - British Prime Minister 1834-1837
Spring Street Thomas Spring Rice Chancellor of the Exchecquer.
Swanston Street Walk Captain Charles Swanston, a Tasmanian banker and prominent member of the Port Phillip Association.
William Street King William 4th.
ACDC Lane (formerly Corporation Lane) after the rock group AC/DC whose career commenced in Melbourne.
Amphlett Lane after late Divinyls singer Chrissy Amphlet
Banana Alley, Melbourne
City Square, Melbourne
Dame Edna Place (formerly Browns Alley) after the character played by Melburnian Barry Humphries.
Hardware Lane, Melbourne
Kitz Lane, Melbourne is named after Swiss-born Louis Kitz, who arrived in Melbourne with his family aboard the ship Barrackpoore in February 1853. He settled in Geelong and became a watchmaker, jeweller and silversmith. Later he moved back to Melbourne and became a well-known wine merchant, promoting the fledgling Victorian colonial wine industry. Kitz was an innovator - he was one of only 12 subscribers to the first Melbourne telephone directory and it is claimed that he established the cider industry in Australia.
WHAT'S IN A STREET NAME
"Name dropper" That's what Melbourne historian Weston Bate calls Sir Richard Bourke, the visiting NSW governor who in 1837 labelled Melbourne's central thoroughfares.
Royalty, aristocracy, judiciary and explorers were Sir Richard's forte. He left behind an Anglocentric, gridiron snapshot of the early 19th century's great and good.
But Melbourne's lanes and alleys offer a more down-to-earth record of the city's evolution. "The lanes really grew their own names," Professor Bate, president of the Royal Historical Society of Victoria, said.
With some 115 entries, the society yesterday launched its first handy reference guide to the names of Melbourne's streets and lanes.
Aimed at visitors and Melburnians, the pocket brochure explains the origin of most of the city's streets, lanes and alleys. According to Professor Bate, the early lanes sprang up as Melbourne's settlers subdivided the big blocks between Sir Richard's grand streets into more manageable units.
Many lanes were filled with workers' cottages. "People often named them after pubs and hotels on corners," Professor Bate said.
No fewer than 21 entries can be traced back to gold-rush Melbourne's affection for alcohol.
Professor Bate's favourite, the cobbled Niagara Lane, lies nestled between well-preserved, red-brick warehouses off Lonsdale Street where the Niagara Hotel plied its trade.
Later, as Marvellous Melbourne boomed, lane names recorded the city's burgeoning specialist trade areas and long-vanished businesses - Hosier Lane off Flinders; Kirks Lane, once home to Kirk's Horse Bazaar between Swanston and Queen Street; biscuit baker TB Guest and Co in William Street is remembered by the eponymous lane between Lonsdale and Little Bourke.
However, some memories have all but been erased. Romeo Lane and Juliet Terrace near the Princess Theatre were once infamous dens of love of a commercial, rather than star-crossed nature. According to Professor Bate, Melbourne councillors reacted by attempting a futile rebranding exercise.
"The good city council decided they would have to change the names and so they became Liverpool and Crossley Streets," he said. "But of course the brothels remained."
Melbourne's Streets and Lanes is available free from the society's offices in A'Beckett Street (named after Victoria's first chief justice Sir William A'Beckett) and at the visitor centre at Federation Square.
Source : Whats in a street name? - The Age : Andrew Webster : February 19, 2004
CITY OF MELBOURNE
In 1837, Governor Bourke on his promotion to lieutenant-general, named the town of Melbourne after Viscount Melbourne the U.K. Prime Minister.
View Larger Map
If you know of a street name or laneway we do not have here, please let us know using the contact us button below.