Named after Lord Lygon, a British cabinet minister of the 1830s, this street extends several kilometres north from Victoria Street, Carlton through North Carlton to Albion Street in East Brunswick. The northern section, between Park and Albert streets, was originally named Cameron Street but renamed Lygon Street in 1872. The East Brunswick section of Lygon Street features long rows of shops, restaurants and cafés and several textile and clothing factories. The North Carlton section is almost entirely made up of small terrace houses opposite the Melbourne General Cemetery. The Lygon Street electric tram route was built in 1916 and runs south through these suburbs from Nicholson Street in Coburg to Elgin Street in Carlton (where it turns west and then south into Swanston Street).
The Carlton section of Lygon Street dates from the government surveys conducted by Robert Hoddle in 1852. The street features some outstanding 19th-century landmarks that include the Trades Hall. The interwar period saw the greatest changes to the nature of this part of the street, with the large local Jewish and Italian populations opening shops and cafés, marking Lygon Street with its distinctive cosmopolitan flavour. Some of these businesses, famous throughout Melbourne, survive today: King & Godfree, University Café, Jimmy Watson's Wine Bar, and Toto's. The Italian influence strengthened with postwar migration and eventually led to the establishment of the Lygon Street Festa in 1978. The street is a mecca for students and academics from the University of Melbourne and RMIT, as well as for tourists.