Imagine a City: Swanston Street Party and the Greening of Melbourne

Swanston Street Party, 1985. Image: John Gollings

It’s a February evening in 1985, on Melbourne’s Swanston Street. Down at the Flinders Street intersection, a road closed sign swings gently while a policeman redirects traffic away from the city centre. His elbow-length white gloves articulate instructions in frank, vaguely theatrical gestures. On the footpath, a metre-high pile of rolled turf is a sign of what’s to come.

“No-one knew what we had in mind, there was a lot of scepticism, and so to unroll the event by laying out the grass was spectacular…”

– Sonja Peter, co-designer, Victorian Government Department of Planning and Environment, 1985

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