Brunswick Street as it runs through Fitzroy
|Length||2 km (1.2 mi)|
|Route number(s)||State Route 45|
|North end||St. Georges Road, Fitzroy North, Melbourne|
|South end||Victoria Parade, Fitzroy, Melbourne|
Brunswick Street is a street in inner northern Melbourne, known for cafés, live music venues and alternative fashion shops.
Brunswick Street runs north-south through the inner northern Melbourne suburbs of Fitzroy and Fitzroy North, from Victoria Parade at its southernmost end, crossing Alexandra Parade, and continuing until it reaches St Georges Road in Fitzroy North, near the Edinburgh Gardens; there, its former northward course is continued by a much smaller residential street named Brunswick Street North.
Tram route 11 runs along the entire length of Brunswick Street for part of its journey.
Brunswick Street, believed to be named after Captain Brunswick Smythe, owes its origins to Benjamin Baxter, who owned a lot of land along Victoria Parade, in the recently proclaimed township of Newtown (now Brunswick South). Baxter's lot was Lot 49, which was adjacent to Lot 48 on the north-west corner of Victoria Parade and Nicholson Street. In 1839 Baxter subdivided his lot into quarters, creating roads between the subdivisions. These became Brunswick Street and Gertrude Street. Initially, Brunswick Street only ran as far as what is now Hanover Street. In 1840, Mr R. S. Webb subdivided Lot 70, which was to the north of Baxter's lot. This extended Brunswick Street further north to Bell Street (originally known as Hamburg Street). The street was officially proclaimed in 1851.
Shops had appeared on Brunswick Street as early as the 1840s. By 1854 the strip rivalled Bourke Street as a shopping district.
After World War Two, large numbers of immigrants (principally from Mediterranean Europe) settled in the inner suburbs of Melbourne, including Fitzroy. Among them there were many Italians, who in turn imported espresso machines and established the foundations of Melbourne's café culture.
For some decades, the suburb of Fitzroy was a working-class area of low rents and cheap shops. This area began to attract students, artists and bohemians. The T. F. Much Ballroom commenced in Cathedral Hall (now called 'Central Hall', just opposite St Vincents Hospital, in Brunswick Street, in 1970. The T. F. Much was the heart of Melbourne's music scene and saw stand out performances by Daddy Cool, Spectrum (and Murtceps), Carson, Capt Matchbox as well as several of Joe Camilleri's earlier incarnations.
In the 1980s, 3RRR established its studios in Victoria Street, off Brunswick Street, the Punters Club established itself as a significant live music venue, as did the Evelyn Hotel, and independent record shop PolyEster Records opened. These businesses cemented Brunswick Street's status as a nexus of Melbourne's indie music and post punk/new-wave subcultures, which in turn drew in waves of suburban tourists in their teens and 20s. Brunswick Street also served as the home-base for integral techno/electronic label/promoter IF? Records, from 1994 to 2001.
Gentrification was not long in following, though the economic recession of the 1990s slowed it somewhat. One by one, the few remaining regular shops closed and were replaced by cafés, fashion boutiques and bars, a shift that has played a large role in Fitzroy being named one of the most unique neighborhoods in the world in 2016. The Punters Club closed in 2002, and 3RRR has relocated further out to Brunswick.
The start of the 21st century, however, has heralded a new dawn and Brunswick Street is home to a melting pot of artisans, housing commissioners, young professionals and boomers with excess retirement savings. The bars thrive and throughout the working week expect a regular trade.
Tram Route 11 (West Preston to Victoria Harbour) traverses Brunswick St. A number of bus routes partially run down or cross the street.
Helen Garner's novel Monkey Grip (1977) featured locations set in and around Brunswick Street, including the Fitzroy Swimming Pool on Alexandra Parade. Brunswick Street has also been used in the filming of many local Melbourne-based television series, such as Offspring and Rush. A song based on the streets' reputation features on English singer-songwriter Kiran Leonard's debut album 'Bowler Hat Soup'.