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Centre Place

Centre Place leads north from Flinders Lane between Elizabeth and Swanston streets, and hooks left midway to Collins Street, preventing vehicular access. As such, the lane is ideal for pedestrian use, and is lined with cafes, restaurants and boutiques to lure the shoppers of Degraves Street across Flinders Lane. It is an open-air laneway, with projecting balconies overhead and street lighting at night. Originally called Cummings Alley, Centre Place wound around warehouses in the 1890s, and the west-leading portion was lined with urinals. By 1915, Cummings Alley had been joined to Collins Street via Centreway, and was renamed Centre Court.

Centre Place became one of the 'first generation of revitalised laneways' in the 1980s, when, according to the director of design and urban environment for the City of Melbourne, 'council and state government moved to protect and upgrade the city's remaining laneways and alleys, encouraging small retailers to move into the city and take spaces facing the street rather than looking inward'.

The revitalised lane soon became popular with shoppers, and nearby retailers have moved to capitalise on this. The owners of the office and retail development at 271 Collins Street cut an east-west access point through to Centre Place, with the intention of diverting some of the pedestrian traffic towards the indoor retail strip at the end of Centre Place's western hook. The walls in this part of the laneway are now completely covered with street art; it seems graffiti artists have taken advantage of this obscured section of the city much the way the men of the nineteenth century did.

Edwina Byrne

Chris Vedelago, 'Life thrives in the laneways', The Age, 28 May 2008, p. 8. Details
MMBW Detail Plan, 1009, City of Melbourne, image no bw0175, 1895; MMBW Melbourne Sewerage Plans 1890s - 1950s; State Library of Victoria. Details