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Prahran

History

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”.
Prahran Post Office opened on 1 April 1853.
Describing Prahran, as it was in the mid 1850s, F.R. Chapman remembered:
“In the very early times Chapel-street had many vacant spaces. On the west side, about the middle, a man could be seen ploughing his farm… and on the same side was a small brick church, or more probably a school-room used as a church, which was known as Mr Gregory’s.”
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[citation needed]), another popular theatre on Chapel Street, was destroyed by fire in 1971. 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.

Prahran

Quick Facts

Postcode

3181

Council

Stonnington