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Prahran, Victoria

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Prahran (pronounced "pruh-RAN"), also known colloquially as "Pran", is an inner city suburb of Melbourne, Victoria]], Australia. At the 2006 Census, Prahran had a population of 10,651.

It is in the Local Government Area of the City of Stonnington. It is an eminently livable part of Melbourne with many shops, restaurants and cafes. Along with St Kilda, Victoria|St., Prahran is also home to a large portion of Melbourne's gay community, with several gay nightclubs on Commercial Road. Like many suburbs of inner Melbourne, the population is more ethnically and socially diverse than in outer suburban areas.

Chapel Street, for example, is a mix of upscale fashion shops and cafes. Along with the South Yarra section of Toorak Rd, it is a fashionable magnet for Melbourne's yuppie set. Greville Street, once the centre of the Melbourne's hippie community, is still very trendy with cafes, bars, restaurants, bookstores, clothing shops and music shops.


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." [1]

Between the 1890s and 1930s, Prahran built up a huge shopping center which by the 1920s had rivaled the Melbourne Central Business District. Large emporia (department stores) sprang up along Chapel Street.

Prahran also became a major entertainment area. The Lyric theater (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 theater built. The Empress (also known as the flea palace), another popular theater on Chapel Street was destroyed by fire in the 1971 and the site became the Chapel Street Bazaar.

In the 1960s, in an effort to boost the slowly growing local population and inject new life in to 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. The result was an influx of migrants, adding to the multicultural flavor of the area. The Special Cake Shop on Chapel Street is one such business whose Greek immigrant owners opened the shop in the mid-1950s and still use the original coffee machine.

In the 1970s, the suburb began to gentrify, with much of the remaining old housing stock being renovated and restored.

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.

Local LandmarksEdit

Non-residential ArchitectureEdit

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

The Chapel Street section of Prahran is notable for its collection of turn of the century emporiums, 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. 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 (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 architectureEdit

File:Victorian terrace houses in wattle street prahran.jpg
File:Gates to princes gardens prahran.jpg

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 SpaceEdit

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 the route 5, route 6, route 64, route 72, route 78 and route 79 trams.

Notable citizensEdit

See also Edit


  1. Coopers History of Prahran] - see Chapter 1 section 5

External linksEdit

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