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Albert Park

(3206, 3 km S, Port Phillip City)

An inner southern suburb sloping down from the higher reaches of South Melbourne to the beach on Hobsons Bay. In 1854 Victoria's surveyor-general laid out a grid of streets for Emerald Hill. The survey, amended in 1857, included a striking precinct of curved streets surrounding central gardens. Modelled on the great squares of London, the St Vincent Place precinct filled with fashionable houses from the 1860s to the 1890s, setting Albert Park's tone as a genteel enclave of South Melbourne. In 1860 a privately built branch railway from the Port Melbourne line to St Kilda intersected this precinct and effectively separated Albert Park from the more densely settled part of South Melbourne. Initially the railway station was called the Butts station because of its proximity to a 70-acre (28 ha) volunteer militia rifle range between the park and the sea. The rifle range was moved to Williamstown in 1878 and the station became Albert Park station because of its proximity to Albert Park Reserve, which had been named after the recently deceased Prince Albert, Queen Victoria's consort, in 1862. Although the beach here was used for bathing from the 1850s, there was little residential development in the southern portion of Albert Park until the 1880s, when it acquired the necessary characteristics of a seaside resort: a pier, a grand hotel and a seaside boulevard, Beaconsfield Parade. From 1890 a tram along Kerferd Road made the beach accessible to day-trippers. Primarily a residential suburb, Albert Park has a high proportion of renters and small households when compared to metropolitan averages. The suburb features the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix circuit and the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Jill Barnard