World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Prahran, Victoria

Article Id: WHEBN0000617328
Reproduction Date:

Title: Prahran, Victoria  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Melbourne Polytechnic, Toorak, Victoria, John Marden, Prahran railway station, Wels Eicke
Collection: Gay Villages in Australia, Lgbt Culture in Melbourne, Suburbs of Melbourne
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Prahran, Victoria

Former Read's Emporium now "Pran Central" on the corner of Chapel Street and Commercial Road
Prahran is located in Melbourne
Population 11,191 (2011 census)[1]
 • Density 5,330/km2 (13,800/sq mi)
Established 1837
Postcode(s) 3181
Area 2.1 km2 (0.8 sq mi)
Location 5 km (3 mi) from Melbourne
LGA(s) City of Stonnington
State electorate(s) Prahran
Federal Division(s) Higgins
Suburbs around Prahran:
Melbourne South Yarra Toorak
Melbourne Prahran Armadale
St Kilda Windsor St Kilda East

Prahran (pronounced "pruh-RAN", also known colloquially as "Pran") is a suburb of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, 5 km south-east of Melbourne's Central Business District. Its local government area is the City of Stonnington. At the 2011 Census, Prahran had a population of 11,191.

Prahran is a part of Greater Melbourne, with many shops, restaurants and cafes. The area of Prahran, centred along Commercial Road is one of Melbourne's gay villages.

The shopping street Chapel Street is a mix of upscale fashion boutiques and cafes. Greville Street, once the centre of the Melbourne's hippie community, has many cafés, bars, restaurants, bookstores, clothing shops and music shops.

Prahran takes its name from Pur-ra-ran, a compound of two aboriginal words, meaning "land partially surrounded by water", in 1837 by George Langhorne. The proximity of the Yarra River and a swamp to the southwest (Albert Park Lake is the remnant) explains that description.[2]


  • History 1
  • Demographics 2
  • Local landmarks 3
    • Non-residential architecture 3.1
    • Residential architecture 3.2
    • Public space 3.3
  • Transport 4
  • Notable people 5
  • See also 6
  • Notes 7


In 1837 George Langhorne named the area Pur-ra-ran, a compound of two aboriginal words, meaning "land partially surrounded by water". When he informed the Surveyor-General Robert Hoddle of the name, it was written as "Prahran".[3]

Prahran Post Office opened on 1 April 1853.[4]

Describing Prahran, as it was in the mid 1850s, F.R. Chapman remembered:

Chapel Street scene in 1889
Chapel Street scene in 1906. The large building second from the right between Read's Store and the Love & Lewis building was formerly an extension of Reads' store but made way for a carpark in the 1960s

Between the 1890s and 1930s Prahran built up a huge shopping centre, which by the 1920s had rivalled the Melbourne Central Business District. Large emporiums (department stores) sprang up along Chapel Street. Prahran also became a major entertainment area. The Lyric theatre (also known as the fleahouse), built on the corner of Victoria Street in 1911, burnt down in the 1940s. The Royal was the second old theatre built. The Empress (also known as the flea palace), another popular theatre on Chapel Street, was destroyed by fire in 1971.[6] The site was operated by the cut-price clothes and homewares chain Waltons for the next decade and was later developed into the Chapel Street Bazaar.

In the 1960s, in an effort to boost the slowly growing local population and inject new life into the suburb, the Victorian Government opened the Prahran Housing Commission estate, just off Chapel Street, together with a larger estate, located just north in South Yarra. Further complementing the high rise developments was a low density development between Bangs and Bendigo Streets.

In the 1970s, the suburb began to gentrify, with much of the remaining old housing stock being renovated and restored. The area had a substantial Greek population and many took advantage of the rise in property values during the 1980s, paving the way for further development and a subsequent shift in demographics.

During the 1990s, the population increased markedly, with demand for inner-city living fuelling a medium-density housing boom, which continues in the area, as part of the Melbourne 2030 planning policy. It was during the 1990s that solidification of the area's homosexual community occurred. Many gay and gay-friendly businesses, including bars, clubs and bookstores can be found along Commercial Road, between Pran Central and the railway overpass.


In Prahran, 61.2% of people were born in Australia. The most common countries of birth were England 4.2%, Greece 3.5%, New Zealand 3.4%, China (excludes SARs and Taiwan) 1.6% and India 1.3%.

Local landmarks

Prahran Rechabite Hall, part of the University of Melbourne

Non-residential architecture

Prahran is home to a large collection of architecturally significant commercial buildings, with many on the Victorian Heritage Register.

The Chapel Street section of Prahran is notable for its collection of turn of the century emporiums and large buildings, which include:

  • Prahran Arcade - Built in 1889 on Chapel Street, is a richly detailed building both externally and internally. Retains the original arcade, but decorative roof was removed in the 1950s. Also known locally as "Birdland" due to pigeons which once bred in the recessed balconies of the building and the large eagles which adorn the facade, but are now screened by chicken wire. Was a Dan Murphy's cellar for many years, but currently a JB HiFi store. Now heritage registered.
  • Reads Emporium - Built in 1914 on the corner of Chapel Street and Commercial Road. A landmark of the area. Its twin beacons, which sit atop large copper clad domes, were once visible like lighthouses for miles around, but no longer operate. During the 1970s, the site traded as a department store under the name Moore's before the lower stories were converted into shops in the 1980s and named "Pran Central". The upper stories were restored and converted into fashionable apartments in 2005. Now heritage registered.
  • Big Store - Built in 1902 and closed in 1968 on Chapel Street. A second store, almost as large as the main store, once stood in the carpark to the west, beyond Cato Street, linked by cross-over walkways. This large Edwardian building is currently used by Coles Supermarkets.
  • Maples Corner - Built in 1910 on the corner of Chapel and High Streets. Converted into offices in the 1980s and many deteriorating decorative features were replaced with post modern elements.
  • Love & Lewis - Built in 1913 on Chapel Street and converted into a mix of offices, retail and apartments in 2004. Now heritage registered.

Other significant Prahran emporiums include Conway's Buildings (1914) and the large Colosseum building (1897), which was lost to fire in 1914.

Other heritage buildings include the former Prahran Town Hall (now used as a library and council offices), the adjacent former City Hall (1888) (currently used for special functions and as an exhibition space), neighbouring Police Station (1887) and Court House (1887) and Rechabite Hall (1888), in the Second Empire style. The Prahran Fire Tower (1889) is on Macquarie Street. State School no 2855, formerly Prahran Primary School (1888), on High Street was converted into apartments in 2005. St Matthews church, a large bluestone church on High Street built in the 1880s, was converted into offices in the 1980s.

Residential architecture

Double storey Victorian terraces in Wattle Street
Gates to Princes Gardens

Residential Prahran consists of mostly single storey Victorian and Edwardian terrace houses, with some larger double storey terraces closer to the main shopping strips. A public housing high rise estate is located on King Street, adjoining Princes Gardens.

Public space

Prahran features many small gardens scattered throughout the suburb, which are largely hidden. The former Greville Botanical Gardens, now "Grattan Gardens", are off Greville Street, on Grattan Street. Subdivisions have caused incursions to what is now a narrow strip, with a playground and heritage pavilion. The Princes Gardens are a small garden, which features the "Chapel Off Chapel", an old church converted into a theatre, as well as the Prahran skate park, home to the best vert skateboarding facilities in Victoria. Victoria Gardens, off High Street, is a Victorian era garden, with a main space consisting of a circular row of London plane trees and an angel statue. The Orrong Romanis Park is the largest park in Prahran.


Prahran is serviced by Prahran Station, on the Sandringham line, as well as trams routes 5, 6, 64, 72 and 78.

Notable people

See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ "Prahran, Victoria". Australian Places. Monash University. Retrieved 25 July 2013. 
  3. ^ John Butler Cooper On-line - see Chapter 1 section 5
  4. ^ Premier Postal History. "Post Office List". Retrieved 11 April 2008. 
  5. ^ "South Suburban Melbourne: 1854-1864.". Victorian Historical Journal 5 (20): 183. 1917. Retrieved 2013-09-25. 
  6. ^ Fire destroys third National Theatre building(see National Theatre Facebook site)
  7. ^ Making their mark - Susan Priestley
  8. ^ George Negus Tonight - Raelene Boyle
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.