Dubbed vertical laneways, the 1920s Swanston Street high-rises of Curtin House and the Nicholas Building boast the typically Melbourne mix of gallery spaces, boutiques, bars and eateries, but both add distinctly quirky stamps to the scene.
The manually-operated lifts in the Nicholas Building are an attraction in themselves. Travel to floor after floor of studios, galleries and curiosities with commentary by the delightfully knowledgeable lift operators. Find craftspeople making the finest made-to-measure shoes, couture, hats and jewellery, or uncover collectable buttons, breathtaking kimonos and independent art at Blindside artist-run gallery.
The busy studios within the Nicholas Building are not always open for browsing, but regular Open Studio days offer an opportunity to peek in and see artists at work.
Further along Swanston Street is Curtin House, where taking the stairs is part of the adventure. The rooftop destination is worth the walk, with a bar, DJs, green “grass” and deck chairs, and a summertime program of movies illuminated by Melbourne’s skyscrapers.
Working down from the rooftop is a series of creative studios, a kung fu academy, fashion boutiques, specialty books,collectible vinyl, plus the perennially popular Cookie bar and the more refined Toff in Town.
Take any tram along Swanston Street to reach the Nicholas Building and Curtin House, both of which are just a short walk from Flinders Street Station.