Bourke Street, Melbourne
|Bourke Street Mall is another one of those controversial government initiatives. Between Elizabeth and Swanston Streets, Melbourne the road is closed to traffic. Except trams. And delivery vehicles. And vehicles working on displays. And..
On one corner is the General Post Office (GPO) with its clock tower, and a wonderful pink granite coin purse sculpture in front of it. But the biggest presence in the Mall is the two department store giants - Myers and David Jones (DJs). Over the years they have spread and each of them commands quite a bit of real estate.
|Next to the post office is the Myers Department Store building. Built when department stores, were the latest in convenience shopping, it is a monument to energetic consumerism.
It foretold a bold, prosperous future, with plenty to buy and plenty to spend, and it's massive frontage stretching ever upwards. Inside many modern shoppers miss the broad staircases, constructed in the days when lifts boasted uniformed operators and climbing two flights of stairs was not the act of rampant health nuts.
|Long a Melbourne landmark and tradition, the old Buckleys and Nunn building has seen many changes. It now bears the David Jones name, but inside the lifts rise at the stately speed of years gone by. Not listed on the society's walk, but well worth a look.
|Next door, another Art Deco building ( at right) houses David Jones. This building shows some of the most distinctive Art Deco influences. Look at the mosaic in the topmost panels, and in the grey 'BORDER'. The zig zags are an Art Deco feature. On the first floor (second floor to USAmericans), there is a mosaic which we haven't been able to photograph yet because of the angles.
Across the road, the old G. J. Coles building is also part of DJs. Again, there are wonderfully wide staircases down to the food hall. The building is currently shrouded during renovations.
|Moving up towards Spring street, the Commonwealth Bank building guards the traffic cul de sac created by the meeting of the Bourke Street mall and the vehicle-free (except for
) Swanston Street Walk.
A building worthy of a great metropolis, you could easily imagine George Reeves slipping off his glasses and jumping from a window, red cape flying in his wake.
|Further still up Bourke Street, the old Bank of New South Wales (now Westpac) chambers has imposingly rich, yet restrained, ornamentation.|
|Pillars, scarabs, the Egyptian influence, the decorated style of these buildings give them a charm and accessibility that later 'modern' buildings with their preoccupation with plain speaking lack.|
Today's glass-fronted banks can't compete with this building when it comes to human scale. It may be taller than a person, but it is clearly decorated for human appreciation. Even if it is built for profit it gives something back to the community whenever passers by take the time to look up.
|Bourke Street sites:
Myer Dept Store, 314-336
|Also on Bourke Street, the Blockbuster building pictured on the previous page.|
Festivale Online Magazine
disclaimers | contact the editor | Festivale revision history
Published in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia copyright © Festivale 1999 All rights reserved
Filed: 26-May-1997 Last updated: 31-Aug-1997 Last tested: Last compiled: 10-Aug-2014
Entire site refreshed: Dec 2008-Feb 2009 | Site URL transferred: Jan 2005 (previously www.festivale.webcentral.com.au)