Journal article

A charitable indulgence: Street stalls and the transformation of public space in Melbourne, c. 1850-1920

A Brown-May

Urban History | Published : 1996


The automobile is often misconstrued as being exclusively responsible for the decline of traditional street culture. This paper argues that the marginalisation of street vendors may also be related to developing definitions of the street as the locus of respectability, unobstructed circulation, nationalism and civic pride. Street entrepreneurs of the 1850s became urban nuisances by the 1900s, associated more with obstruction and underservedness as with convenience and enterprise. Licensing records of bootblacks and coffee-stall keepers as objects of municipal benevolence reveal their economic and social roles in the micro-geography of the city. While nostalgia can distort the realities of hi..

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