3 km from Melbourne CBD
Planned as Melbourne's first suburb, it was later also one of the city's first areas to gain municipal status. Its borders are Alexandra Parade (north), Victoria Parade (south), Smith Street (east) and Nicholson Street. Fitzroy is also Melbourne's smallest suburb in terms of area, being approximately 100 Ha.
It has a long associations with the working class and is currently inhabited by a wide variety of ethnicities and socio-economic groups and is known for a culture of bohemianism, being the main home of Melbourne's Fringe Festival. Its commercial heart is Brunswick Street, which is one of Melbourne's major retail, eating, and entertainment strips.
It has undergone waves of both urban renewal and gentrification since the 1950s. In response to past planning practices, much of the suburb is now a historic preservation precinct, with many individual buildings and streetscapes covered by Heritage Overlays. Its built environment is diverse and features some of the finest examples of Victorian era architecture in Melbourne. The most recent changes to Fitzroy are mandated by the Melbourne 2030 Metropolitan Strategy, in which both Brunswick Street and nearby Smith Street are designated for redevelopment as Activity Centres.
It was named after Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, the Governor of New South Wales from 1846 to 1855.
HistoryFitzroy was Melbourne's first suburb, created in 1839 when the area between Melbourne and Alexandra Parade (originally named Newtown) was subdivided into vacant lots and offered for sale.
Newtown was later renamed Collingwood, and the area now called Fitzroy (west of Smith Street) was made a ward of the Melbourne City Council. On 10 September 1858, Fitzroy became a municipality in its own right, separate from the City of Melbourne. Surrounded as it was by a large number of factories and industrial sites in the adjoining suburbs, Fitzroy was ideally suited to working men's housing, and from the 1860s to the 1880s, Fitzroy's working class population rose dramatically. The area's former mansions became boarding houses and slums, and the heightened poverty of the area prompted the establishment of several charitable, religious and philanthropic organisations in the area over the next few decades. A notable local entrepreneur was Macpherson Robertson, whose confectionery factories engulfed several blocks and stand as heritage landmarks today.
The establishment of the Housing Commission of Victoria in 1938 saw swathes of new residences being constructed in Melbourne's outer suburbs. With many of Fitzroy's residents moving to the new accommodation, their places were taken by post-war immigrants, mostly from Italy and Macedonia and the influx of Italian and Irish immigrants saw a marked shift towards Catholicism from Fitzroy's traditional Methodist and Presbyterian roots. The Housing Commission would build two public housing estates in Fitzroy in the 1960s; one in Hanover Street and one at the southern end of Brunswick Street.
Before World War I, Fitzroy was a working-class neighborhood, with a concentration of political radicals already living there. Postwar immigration into the suburb resulted in the area becoming socially diverse. Many working-class Chinese immigrants also settled in Fitzroy due to its proximity to Chinatown, with also a noticeable Vietnamese community; a small enclave of Africans lives there, and the area (particularly Johnston Street) serves as a centre of Melbourne's Hispanic community, with many Spanish and Latin American-themed restaurants, clubs, bars and some stores.
Like other inner-city suburbs of Melbourne, Fitzroy underwent a process of gentrification during the 1980s and 1990s. The area's manufacturing and warehouse sites were converted into apartments, and the corresponding rising rents in Fitzroy saw many of the area's residents move to Northcote and Brunswick. In June 1994, the City of Yarra was created, by combining the Cities of Fitzroy, Collingwood and Richmond.