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Urban Environment

By the end of the 19th century, city and suburban improvement was assuming diverse and sophisticated guises as development accelerated. Calls to prevent alienation of parks and gardens, deal with the pollution problems of noxious trades, and address the juxtaposition of incompatible land uses entered the public arena. Architectural controls on city building were mooted. The boulevardisation of St Kilda Road as the royal route for the Federation celebrations suggested possibilities of more extensive street beautification. In the 19th century, perception of the slum problem was confined to the worst lanes and little streets of central Melbourne. After World War I, the town planning movement integrated professional expertise in architecture, surveying and engineering, patrician fears about labour productivity, social unrest, and 'national efficiency', and popular worries like provision of open space and tree planting.

The regulation of nuisances (animals, smell and waste, noise, spitting) and the provision of street amenities (street trees, street lighting, public toilets, drinking fountains) have made Melbourne's streets cleaner, safer and more enjoyable for its residents. The campaign for street improvements that saw the introduction of a range of facilities and amenities in the 19th and early 20th centuries is continued through the provision of better seating, tactile tiles for people with impaired vision, public art spaces, performance pedestals, and municipal subsidies for outdoor cafes. By the 1990s open-air eating had become de rigeur, though forced in many cases to compete with the extremes of climate and the noise of traffic.