Block Arcade – Melbourne – Business Centre
On my last trip to Melbourne I managed a day in the business centre to visit the iconic Block Arcade. The Block Arcade is a heritage shopping arcade built between 1891 and 1893. A Melbourne financier Benjamin Fink requested architect, David C Askew to produce plans for a shopping arcade similar in design to the Galleria Vittoria in Milan, Italy. David Askew had already visited the Galleria Vittoria in Italy and was suitable impressed with the design concept.
The Arcade renowned for its elegant and classy interior
The iconic Block Arcade is the finished result of the designs produced by David Askew. The Arcade became the most richly decorated interior of a retail establishment in Melbourne’s business centre at that time. The Block Arcade renowned for the etched glass roof, delicate wrought ironwork, elegant lighting (originally designed for gas), stone faced block, and rich timber supports throughout the arcade. The mosaic tiled floor is the largest such floor in Australia. Even though the floor now shows signs of wear, as you would expect after a 100 years or so of foot traffic, it is still a beautiful mosaic floor.
The two main advantages of the arcades were the increased number of shop fronts, this in turn increased the returns for the Landlord’s. You will notice the design concept of ‘arcades within an arcade’ incorporated into our modern shopping complexes of today (all those shop fronts).
In the 1890’s the design of the arcade provided ladies with a classy retreat to enjoy their shopping, away from heat, dust and noise of the busy streets in the business centre of Melbourne. Shopping in the arcade then, as it does today, offered elegant fashions and exclusive items not found elsewhere in the business centre of Melbourne.
‘Doing the Block’ – in the fashionable business centre
The Block Arcade became one of Melbourne’s most fashionable arcades in the business centre and considered the ‘place to be“. In the late 1800’s ladies and gentlemen in all their finery would be seen ‘doing the block‘. ‘Doing the Block’ meant the ladies and gents strolling around the block (consisting of Collins, Elizabeth, Swanston and Little Collins Streets) ‘to be seen’ in the most fashionable area of Melbourne. Promenading around the block was a way of socializing with their peers.
Today high fashion and exclusive specialty shops in this iconic Arcade
The Block Arcade today, renowned for its exclusive specialty shops for jewellery,fashion, giftware, handmade toys, lingerie, shoes and more. Visit the Hopetoun Tea Rooms for a ‘High Tea” or Haigh’s Chocolate Shop in the Block Arcade. Haigh’s chocolate established since 1919, is the oldest family owned chocolate manufacturing retailer in Australia. Divine chocolate!
Exiting from the Block Arcade to Elizabeth Street, I couldn’t help but notice what a popular lunchtime alfresco dining area this is. Warm sunshine filtering through the etched glass ceiling. Small intimate cafe’s offering light appetizing meals with a glass of wine. It so looks the ‘place to be’; however, having just had a sumptuous morning tea in the Hopetoun Tea Rooms in the Block Arcade, it will have to wait until next time!
Elizabeth Street facade of the iconic Block Arcade
Not forgetting the Elizabeth Street facade of this gracious old six-story building. The Block Arcade is one of Australia’s best surviving examples of Victorian Mannerist style. The iconic Arcade complex classified by the National Trust, is on the register of the National Estate.
Although the design and architecture of the Block Arcade is very elegant and more intimate, it remains a poor cousin to the Galleria Vittoria in Milan, Italy.
Tours for the iconic Block Arcade in Melbourne Business centre
Tours of the Block Arcade are on Tuesdays & Thursdays. The two-hour tour commences at 1:00pm and includes a short stop for Devonshire Tea. For bookings phone: +61 3 9654 5244.
Address: The Block Arcade; 282 Collins Street Melbourne through to 100 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne business centre.
How to get there: Melbourne City Tours cheapest travel around the CBD
- Melbourne suburbs Doreen Melbourne area
- Greensborough Victoria a pleasant place to visit
- Flinders Street Station Melbourne City
- My Favourite Places to Visit Despite the Melbourne Weather
- Skydeck 88 Experience
- Melbourne Attractions
- The Melbourne Zoo
- Places to visit-Melbourne City Australia
- Melbourne City Tours
- Titanic-The Artefact Exhibition at Melbourne Museum