Located between Swanston and Russell streets, Russell Place extends from Bourke to Little Collins streets. In 1860, it was occupied by a boarding house run by Mrs Weeks, and Alexander Anderson's printing office.
In August 1890, shopkeeper and resident of Russell Place Charles Elliot wrote to the City of Melbourne requesting that street lighting be installed in the lane and for a greater police presence. It was hoped that this would abate the nuisance of public urination 'of as many as twenty men... at a time'. The Police Superintendent's response to this concern was that such nuisances could not be effectively suppressed until a place of convenience for the public was provided.