Johnston Street is one of Melbourne’s historic streets, established as early as 1857. It functioned as an early civic and commercial centre for Collingwood. The early depiction of Johnston Street is that of a pedestrian-prioritised and human-scale street: wide footpaths, active street edges and ground-level frontages, a mixture of building types, fine grained architecture, canopies over pedestrian routes and a tram service as the main mode of transport. The tram route was inaugurated in 1887 and ran until 1939.
This is not the condition of Johnston Street today.
For Streets Without Cars, I have chosen Johnston Street in order to tackle the negative transformation that it has undergone due to the demand of cars. As cars came to dominate the street-scape, Johnston Street has developed into a busy east-west arterial road that feeds significant volumes of vehicle traffic between the eastern suburbs and the CBD. As a result, the image of Johnston Street as it appears today is far from its early beginnings: narrow footpaths, poor connections, inactive street frontages, heavy traffic environment, lack of shade/shelter over pedestrian routes, gated windows/doors, lack of trees, lack of amenities for pedestrians and cyclists (e.g. benches), numerous under-used/derelict or vacant buildings and struggling activation of the street. The current main function of Johnston Street appears to be that of a thoroughfare.
Johnston Street also has immense potential: street edges lined with remnants of historic facades, eclectic building uses, a diverse local community, a rich culture of street art, numerous furniture and crafts-based small businesses, and a large residential community on and adjacent to the street.
The study area that I have chosen to focus on as part of the Streets Without Cars studio is the section of Johnston Street between Hoddle Street and Gold Street in Collingwood. I feel it represents the best of both the negative and positive characteristics of Johnston Street, and has the potential to offer more to pedestrians and cyclists, and less to cars.
- Draft Johnston Street Local Area Plan; City of Yarra; 2012
- Johnston Street, Collingwood, copyright of author.
- Johnston Street circa 1906, sourced from the State Library of Victoria.
- Negative qualities of Johnston Street, copyright of author.
- Positive qualities of Johnston Street, copyright of author.