Thursday, 2 July 2015

“Melbourne is a man-made city.”

It’s probably no secret to both my readers that Melbourne is my favourite Australian city. And it’s not just the footy,although it helps. Here’s one reason: there’s an old English proverb, first used  used by Alexander Pope, I think:

“God made the country; and man made the town.”

You don’t have to be religious to get the point.1 What the gods gave Sydney was a beautiful harbour; with some obviously blinding exceptions, it’s the man-made parts that let it down. Apart from the harbour and points around it, too much of the wider townscape is like a large Henderson,with an even larger car park.

Melbourne feels different. Melbourne inherited virtually nothing from the gods – a flat cityscape, a dull sort of port, a river floating upside down. But what man brought to it, that’s what makes it a great city.

Melbourne is a man-made city. It’s a great man-made city.

This student film does a great job of describing why …

the cerebral city from John Moody on Vimeo. [hat tip Max Harris]

1. In the wider context, Ayn Rand called it the distinction between the metaphysical and the man-made, but that takes us way off-piste.


  1. I agree. And even more amazing a city when you consider that in 1835 there was absolutely nothing there, and the speed of it's growth particularly in the 19th century gold rush. For instance from 1851 to 1861 it's population went from 23,000 to 140,000. Contrast that with glacial rebuild of Chch under the control of the planners, and you have the perfect counterpoint to the preposterous claim that planners are necessary to produce desirable cities.

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