Every major city in the world has a structure that becomes its iconic image. New York City for example has the Statue of Liberty, Paris has the Eiffel Tower, and in Australia Sydney has its beautiful Opera House. Melbourne may not have structures as iconic as the ones listed above, but if I had to name one structure in Melbourne that represents the city I would have to say it is the Flinders Street Station:
The station is located in the middle of the Melbourne Central Business District on the corner of Flinders and Swanston Street. The location of Flinders Street Station has been the central hub of rail transport in Melbourne dating all the way back to 1854. By the 1880’s the then existing railway station was getting too old and a replacement would be needed. In 1899 a design contest was held for what the exterior of the new station would look like. On May 22, 1900 the first prize was awarded to JW Fawcett and HPC Ashworth for their design of what the station looks like today.
Flinders Street Station in 1927.
The construction of the new station wasn’t completed until 1910, but the station was well worth the wait as it is easily one of the most beautiful train stations in the entire world. The people of Victoria definitely got their money’s worth for investing in the new station considering that the bright gold color and clock towers of the station has been a Melbourne fixture for nearly 100 years now.
Here is a look at the station from above as seen from the observation deck of the Rialto Towers. The gold color of the station easily stands out among all the much larger buildings that surround it:
You can see Melbourne’s Federation Square right across the street from Flinders Street Station at the top of the picture. I have always found it ironic that one of the city’s most beautiful buildings is right across the street from easily its most ugly building:
Here are some facts and figures from the Victorian Department Transportation website on the amount of travelers this historic station still sees every day:
Each week, more than 10,300 passenger-carrying suburban train services operate to and from Flinders Street Station.
On an average weekday, more than 110,000 people pass through the station and its ten platforms.
At 708 metres long, platform 1 is the fourth longest railway platform in the world.
Just about every time I go through Flinders Street Station the place seems to be packed with commuters. It is also quickly becoming the place to meet up to launch protests or as the 2006 World Cup showed a place to cheer on the nation’s sports teams. If in Melbourne it is definitely worth a stop to take a look at the station and admire its beautiful architecture. Here is a tip for everyone, definitely buy a Spanish doughnut from the guy on the Swanston Street side of the station; just like visiting the station itself, you won’t regret it.