Doing the Block

Doing the Block was the expression coined in the late 1800's for the stroll through Melbourne's shopping arcades, The Block and Royal Arcade.

An elegant shopping experience but it was also the place to be seen.

This was ‘The Block’, the city’s most fashionable shopping street. ‘Doing the Block’ — walking up and down this section of Collins Street in the late afternoon or on Saturday morning — was a favourite pastime between 1870 and the First World War (1914-18).

In 1880, artist ST Gill captured the fashions and ‘fashionistas’ of early Melbourne in his sketch Doing the Block, Collins Street.

The Block is famous for its arcades, modelled on those of London and Milan. By increasing the number of shopfronts they increased landlords’ returns while offering lady shoppers refuge from the dust, heat and noise of the street.

The Block Arcade is one of the finest examples of a 19th Century shopping arcade. It is renowned for its impressive etched glass roof with decorative wrought iron and timber supports and has the largest mosaic floor area in Australia. The complex is classified by the National Trust and is on the register of the National Estate.

Designed by architect D.C. Askew for the financier Benjamin Fink, the arcade was constructed in two sections in 1891 and 1893. It derived its name from the tradition of "doing the block", or parading around Melbourne's fashionable shopping streets.

Where: 282 Collins Street Melbourne through to 100 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne




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