The History of Melbourne

The city's origins lie in a surge in nineteenth century urbanisation which ringed the Pacific with a network of bustling commercial cities: Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, Auckland, San Francisco, Seattle and Vancouver. They grew as gateways to their expansive hinterlands, facilitating European settlement and the harnessing of their developing regional economies to world money and produce markets. They were cities of the nineteenth century, built from scratch, their spatial form shaped by the latest technological innovations and their social economic structures mirroring the logic of modern capitalist market place. Melbourne – fittingly dubbed “Marvellous Melbourne” by George Sala in 1888, encapsulates this remarkable city's building progress. Melbourne was for most of the nineteenth century the most remarkable of these Pacific Rim cities, and the largest in both population and in physical extent. The growth of this city is often taken for granted, but Melbourne was not predetermined or inevitable. It was established by speculators technically in breach of the law. The hinterland was not given out to capitalists but licensed, leased and purchased by investors and speculators. This entrepreneurial quality was reinforced by the gold discoveries which attracted settlers who were young, enterprising and independent. These were the people who opposed state aid to religion, fought for the eight hour day, pressed for land to be opened up to the small settler and most dramatically espoused the protection of local industry ~ inverting the orthodoxies of Great Britain. A strong imprint remains of the industries established between 1860 and 1890, especially in areas like clothing and footwear establishing Marvellous Melbourne as the shopping capital of Australia even today.

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