History

Melbourne was the richest city in the world in 1880’s

The decade of the 1880s is considered as the golden period in Melbourne’s History.  The decade began with the Melbourne International Exhibition, which was held at large purpose-built Exhibition Building.

In 1880 a telephone exchange was established and in the same year the foundations of St Paul’s, were laid.

Lithograph of the Royal Exhibition Building, built to host the Melbourne International Exhibition of 1880.

In 1881 electric light was installed in the Eastern Market, and in the following year a generating station capable of supplying 2,000 incandescent lamps was in operation.In 1885 the first line of the Melbourne cable tramway system was built, becoming one of the worlds most extensive systems by 1890.

Melbourne had an extraordinary growth during this period thanks to consumer confidence, easy access to credit, and steep increases in the price of land which led to an enormous amount of construction.

During the boom, Melbourne had reputedly become the richest city in the world, and the largest after London in the British Empire.

An English journalist (George Augustus Henry Sala), who visited Melbourne in 1885 coined the word “Marvellous Melbourne”, which stuck along till 20th century.

The land boom reached its peak in 1888 large commercial buildings, coffee palaces, terrace housing and palatial mansions proliferated in the city.

The exhibition building hosted its second event in 1888. This event was larger in every aspect compared to the first one.

It is during this period where , Melbourne Centennial Exhibition, spurred construction of numerous hotels including the 500 room Federal Hotel, The Palace Hotel in Bourke Street (both since demolished), and the doubling in size of the Grand (Windsor).

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