Saturday, December 20, 2008

Melbourne's Laneway Culture

Melbourne, pronounced by Australians as "Melbin", is known as Australia's cultural capital. Ten years ago the city provided money to turn the narrow "laneways" between high-rises into cafe's, galleries, and boutiques to complement the city's covered arcades like the ones in European destinations like Milan, Italy. I had a chance to visit Melbourne's laneways and see how they contribute to Melbourne's identity.

The success of laneway culture has caused Sydney to provide similar funding for laneway development, and recently a Laneway Festival has been created across Australia. The feeling I got from walking around and stopping for coffee throughout the network of cafes reminded me of other cities like Prague and Florence with older infrastructure.

I find it interesting that the buildings on either side of these laneways are often ultramodern and have been given face-lifts so often that the age of the block seems all but lost. The laneways, however, have received no such reconstructive surgery and shine in the brilliance of their antiquity. In Melbourne's case these alleys can date back to Melbourne's origins as early as 1835.

Who founded Melbourne in 1835, you ask? You're gonna love the answer:

Batman! I'm not kidding! Check it out...

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