Fitzroy is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3 km north-east of the city's Central Business District (CBD) and located in the local government area of the City of Yarra.
- Area:1.42 km2
- Elevation:35 m
- Local Government Area:Yarra City Council
Fitzroy is an inner suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 3 km north-east of the city's Central Business District (CBD) and located in the local government area of the City of Yarra. As of 2016, Fitzroy had a population of 10,445. Planned as Melbourne's first suburb in 1839, it later became one of the city's first areas to gain municipal status, in 1858. It occupies Melbourne's smallest and most densely populated area outside the CBD, just 100 ha.
Fitzroy is known as a cultural hub, particularly for its live music scene and street art, and is the main home of the Melbourne Fringe Festival. Its commercial heart is Brunswick Street, one of Melbourne's major retail, culinary, and nightlife strips. Long associated with the working class, Fitzroy has undergone waves of urban renewal and gentrification since the 1980s and today is home to a wide variety of socio-economic groups, featuring both some of the most expensive rents in Melbourne and one of its largest public housing complexes, Atherton Gardens.
Its built environment is diverse and features some of the finest examples of Victorian era architecture in Melbourne. Much of the suburb is a historic preservation precinct, with many individual buildings and streetscapes covered by Heritage Overlays. The most recent changes to Fitzroy are mandated by the Melbourne 2030 Metropolitan Strategy, in which both Brunswick Street and nearby Smith Street are designated for redevelopment as Activity centres.
It was named after Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, the Governor of New South Wales from 1846 to 1855. It is bordered by Alexandra Parade (north), Victoria Parade (south), Smith Street (east) and Nicholson Street. The kulin name recorded for the Fitzroy area is ngár-go.
The area that is now known as Fitzroy and Collingwood was part of the territory of the country of the Woiwurrung people of the Kulin nation. The area that is now known as Fitzroy was the land of the Wurundjeri people. Fitzroy was Melbourne's first suburb, created in 1839 when the area between Melbourne and Alexandra Parade (originally named Newtown) was subdivided into vacant lots and offered for sale.
Newtown was later renamed Collingwood, and the area now called Fitzroy (west of Smith Street) was made a ward of the Melbourne City Council. On 9 September 1858, Fitzroy became a municipality in its own right, separate from the City of Melbourne. In accordance with the Municipal Act, on 28 September 1858, a meeting of ratepayers was held in 'Mr Templeton's schoolroom, George street' to prepare for a local council election, with Dr Thomas Embling, MLA for Collingwood, presiding. The council election took place two days later and the first councilors were; Thomas Rae, George Symons, Edward Langton, Henry Groom, Benjamin Bell, Edwin Bennett and Thomas Hargreave. The first council meeting, held after the declaration of election, was at the Exchange Hotel, George Street, and Symons was unanimously elected chair.Surrounded as it was by a large number of factories and industrial sites in the adjoining suburbs, Fitzroy was ideally suited to working men's housing, and from the 1860s to the 1880s, Fitzroy's working class population rose dramatically. The area's former mansions became boarding houses and slums, and the heightened poverty of the area prompted the establishment of several charitable, religious and philanthropic organisations in the area over the next few decades. A notable local entrepreneur was Macpherson Robertson, whose confectionery factories engulfed several blocks and stand as heritage landmarks today.
The Fitzroy Gasworks was erected on Reilly Street (now Alexander Parade) in 1861, dominating the suburb, with the Gasometer Hotel located opposite. The population of Fitzroy in 1901 was 31,610.The establishment of the Housing Commission of Victoria in 1938 saw swathes of new residences being constructed in Melbourne's outer suburbs. With many of Fitzroy's residents moving to the new accommodation, their places were taken by post-war immigrants, mostly from Italy and Greece and the influx of Italian and Irish immigrants saw a marked shift towards Catholicism from Fitzroy's traditional Methodist and Presbyterian roots. The Housing Commission would build two public housing estates in Fitzroy in the 1960s; one in Hanover Street and one at the southern end of Brunswick Street.
Before World War I, Fitzroy was a working-class neighbourhood, with a concentration of political radicals already living there. Postwar immigration into the suburb resulted in the area becoming socially diverse. Many working-class Chinese immigrants settled in Fitzroy due to its proximity to Chinatown. There is also a noticeable Vietnamese community, a small enclave of Africans, and the area (particularly Johnston Street) also serves as a centre of Melbourne's Hispanic community, with many Spanish and Latin American-themed restaurants, clubs, bars and some stores.
The Fitzroy Magistrates' Court closed on 1 February 1985.Like other inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, Fitzroy underwent a process of gentrification during the 1980s and 1990s. The area's manufacturing and warehouse sites were converted into apartments, and the corresponding rising rents in Fitzroy saw many of the area's residents move to Northcote and Brunswick. In June 1994, the City of Yarra was created by combining the Cities of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond.
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