The Melbourne City Square is a pedestrian plaza and former civic centre located in the Central Business District of Melbourne, Australia. The square is currently bounded by Swanston Street, Collins Street, Flinders Lane and the Westin Hotel. Melbourne Town Hall (1870) and St Paul’s Cathedral (1891) are prominent landmarks to the north and south respectively. The square has been redeveloped several times and associated with a number of controversies over the years. A prominent feature of the square is the Burke and Wills Statue (1864) by Charles Summers (left).
In 1860–61, Robert O'Hara Burke and William John Wills led an expedition of 19 men with the intention of crossing Australia from Melbourne in the south to the Gulf of Carpentaria in the north, a distance of around 3,250 kilometres (approximately 2,000 miles). At that time most of the inland of Australia had not been explored by non-indigenous people and was completely unknown to the European settlers. The south-north leg was successfully completed (except that they were stopped by swampland 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) from the northern coastline), but owing to poor leadership and bad luck, both of the expedition's leaders died on the return journey. Altogether, seven men lost their lives, and only one man, John King, crossed the continent with the expedition and returned alive to Melbourne.
The rather ghastly Westin Hotel and private apartments behind the square (see above) were part of a Faustian deal by the City Council and developers: In order to restore the decaying Regent Theatre and upgrade the City Square, Council sold public land (eastern half of the square) to a developer for $12.5 million and a hotel and apartments were built on it. The council put that $12.5 million towards the restoration of the Regent along with $12.5 million offered by the state government. This allowed the restoration of the theatre and the construction of a hotel with apartments on the eastern half of the City Square. The redevelopment of the Regent took 3 years from September 1993, to its final reopening gala on August 17 1996.
The interior of the City Square apartments is much more appealing (which is necessary given their multimillion dollar price tag...). The two photographs below are not taken by me but published by the Herald Sun, one of our local newspapers, a few months ago when one of these apartments was put on the market.
This post is part of the Signs, Signs meme.