1. Themes
  2. A to Z

Bowen Street

Bowen Street, running north from La Trobe Street between Swanston and Russell streets, would have offered spectacular views of Melbourne in the nineteenth century, as it was cut through the steep incline overlooking the Swanston Street basin. Bowen Street was formerly the home of the Working Men's College, the Gordon Institute, the Imperial Hotel, Melbourne United Friendly Society, and down the entire east side of the street, the Melbourne Gaol. The bluestone cell-blocks of the prison had been built in 1853, and doubtless witnessed an unpleasant side of Melbourne life for the 80 years until their gradual demolition in the 1930s. The Old Melbourne Gaol closed in 1929, but was briefly reopened during World War II as a military detention centre. Some of the buildings remain today as part of RMIT University, which now occupies all buildings on either side of Bowen Street.

Edwina Byrne

MMBW Detail Plans, 1022, 2023, City of Melbourne, image no bw0013, 1895; MMBW Melbourne Sewerage Plans 1890s - 1950s; State Library of Victoria. Details