The Dome, 333 Collins Street, Melbourne was originally the ceiling of a bank. It was built in 1891 when Melbourne was one of the richest cities in the world due to the Gold Rush happening on it’s door step. Just two years later in 1893 there was a bank crash and the bank that made this masterpiece went bust.
“In 1850, the population of Victoria was about 76,000. Within 10 years, it had increased seven fold to 540,000. This statistic alone should give a hint about the extent and popularity of the gold rush, and about the number of prospectors, adventurers, miners and workers it attracted to the colony in a short period of time. People came to Victoria from far and wide -one of the first Chinatowns in Australia, and the second in the whole western world, was found in Melbourne by the many Chinese who came to Victoria with the gold rush. Thousands of British and Europeans prospectors too headed for Victoria in the gold rush -it has been estimated that up to 2% of the population of the United Kingdom moved to Victoria in the 1850s. The total population of Australia increased threefold from 430,000 in 1851 to 1.7 million in 1871. The gold rush heavily influenced the city of Melbourne too. As the capital of Victoria, and the major city closest to the mining towns, Melbourne’s population increased exponentially with the gold rush. Within months of the discovery of gold in Victoria, Melbourne’s population grew from 25,000 to 40,000 inhabitants, and by 1865 Melbourne had overtaken Sydney as the largest and richest Australian city. Melbourne continued to grow exponentially for the next 4 decades and later too, and by 1880, it was the largest and the richest city in the British Empire after London. These numbers of growth for Australia, Victoria and Melbourne give a hint of the extent of the Victorian gold rush – unsurprisingly, many estimate it to be the largest gold rush in history.
Before the Victorian gold rush, Australia was little more than an outpost of the Empire where convicts were sent to resettle the colonies. But with the gold rush, a lot of people rushed into Australia and made it their home. For example, within 10 years of 1951, more immigrants arrived in Australia than the total number of convicts sent to Australia over the previous 70 years. In fact, many have observed that the discovery of gold in Victoria accelerated the end to the transportation of prisoners to Australia. This followed from the reasoning that sending convicts to Australia was not a punishment now; rather it was the ticket to a gold digging fortune.
With the coming of more immigrants, and the economic activity that came with so much of gold being produced, cities in Victoria and even in other parts of Australia prospered. Even today, the architecture of these cities is influenced by the boom in construction at that time -the architectural styles that were used in that time are still visible in these cities. "
Source: Pan for Gold
“From 1893 to 1987, this octagonal, arched and decorated dome enclosed chamber was headquarters of the Commercial Bank of Australia. The dome was thought to be one of the largest in the world constructed solely from plaster – with no timber, masonry, brick, wood or iron in the dome apart from its cap, which was made of iron and glass. Henry Gyles Turner, the former Bank of Australasia clerk, who became general manager of the CBA in 1870 was also an historian, writer and treasurer of the Yorick Club. The Collins Street facade, which was demolished in 1939, made room for a front section incorporating seven new upper floors. The original entrance foyer and dome was retained when major redevelopment of the site was conducted in 1988-90 and a modern office tower was built above the former banking chamber.”
Source: A Nation’s Heritage
During the 1988-90 renovation a truck was driven under the dome to aid in the work and when it went to turn on the carpet the driver became concerned. He backed up lifted up the carpet and to his delight and horror found a gorgeous mosaic floor to match the dome. The bank had considered it old fashioned so had covered it up and forgotten about it, the new owners were delighted and restored it as best they could to its former glory. This development built 33 floors above the original heritage listed building retaining this wonderous bit or architecture for modern visitors to enjoy.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D mkII
Lens: EF 15mm f/2.8 fisheye
Shutter Speed: 1/50th sec
When: 1:34pm on 27/9/2011
Handheld (lying on my back on the floor of this busy thoroughfare, no tripods allowed… grrrrr.
Not available through the bub, bmail me if interested.
For other shots in this genre check out my Urban Landscapes gallery.