Do the time warp and take a proper gander at these ye olde snaps. Is that really Melbourne? Yes, yes it is.

Flinders Street Station

Our domed icon is bustling in this happy snap from 1950. If you look closely at the entrance to Flinders Street station, you can make out a Christmas shopping message underneath the clock: ‘Prepare for Christmas. Shop and post early. Travel between 10 and 4’. There’s no lack of fashionable city-goers decked out in hats, either.

Black and white photo of Flinders Street Station with trams, cars and lots of pedestrians
Flinders Street Station circa 1950. Photo: City Collection.

Princes Bridge Station

It’s 1960 and Federation Square is nowhere in sight. Instead, cylindrical Princes Bridge Station sits above a sea of brown track. Demolished in 1964 and replaced with the notoriously ugly Gas and Fuel building. Having déjà vu? Yes, the new Metro Tunnel Town Hall station entrance is being built on the same spot.

File under some things never change: green and yellow trams and St Pauls Cathedral.

A photo taken from the air of Princes Bridge over the Yarra and the old buildings of Melbourne
Princes Bridge Station ca. 1956-64. Photo: City Collection.

Manchester Unity Building rooftop cafe

Who knew the Manchester Unity Building was an early adopter of rooftop dining? In the '60s it boasted an alfresco garden cafe. Complete with palm trees, Japanese maples, fountain and pond. Plus rumoured roaming flamingos and a string quartet. Wow.

A black and white photo of an empty outdoor terrace at a cafe with dining tables
The rooftop café in the Manchester Unity Building (estimated date 1960-1969). Photo: Harold Paynting Collection, State Library Victoria.

Centre Place

European-style laneways have always been a window-shopping city staple. Although Centre Place is barely recognisable in late-'60s black and white. Signs advertise practical wares like skirts, army supplies, cameras and cards. And everyone looks very dressed up.

A busy laneway filled with stores and women shopping
Centre Place ca. 1956 – 1965. Photo: City Collection.

Foy's department store rooftop carnival

Foy's Art Deco department store digs on the corner of Swanston and Bourke once rivalled Myer and David Jones. Foy’s were famous for their Christmas decorations – starring a three-storey Santa. Scary. After World War II, Foy’s added a morale-boosting open-air carnival to its roof. Complete with a petting zoo, pony rides, Ferris wheel, merry-go-round and water boat ride. Other mid-'60s oddities include a skyscraper-free view and flying Union Jack.

Black and white photo of a carnival held on a rooftop featuring a Ferris wheel, carousel and bunting flags
The rooftop fun park which used to exist on the top of Foy and Gibson department store (estimated date 1960-1967) Photo: State Library Victoria.

Playgrounds in Flagstaff Gardens

Matching bonnets, faces away from the camera and chicken wire fencing. 1920s playtime in Flagstaff Gardens had major 'Children of the Corn' vibes. Look closely at the top right hand corner of the image to see kids swinging at heights that today’s health and safety standards would never permit.

Black and white photo of children at the playground featuring swings and seesaws
A playground in Flagstaff Gardens circa 1925.

Thanks to the City of Melbourne’s Art and Heritage Collection and the State Library Victoria digital image pool for these amazing archival photos.

See more of historic Melbourne

Royal Exhibition Building

World Heritage-listed and the oldest surviving Great Hall of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

St Patrick's Cathedral

This historic Catholic cathedral is the largest Gothic Revival building in Victoria.

Manchester Unity Building

Iconic Art Deco gothic landmark of Melbourne, housing offices, apartments and retail spaces.

Curtin House

A six-storey 1920s building with an eclectic mix of shops, dining and entertainment.

Last updated on Tue 1 Jun 2021

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