For much of the 19th and 20th centuries, Melbourne’s Little Lonsdale Street – locally known as ‘Little Lon’ – was notorious as a foul slum and brothel district, occupied by the itinerant and the criminal. The stereotype of ‘slumdom’ defined ‘Little Lon’ in the minds of Melbournians, and became entrenched in Australian literature and popular culture.
The Commonwealth Block, Melbourne tells a different story. This groundbreaking book reports on almost three decades of excavations conducted on the Commonwealth Block – the area of central Melbourne bordered by Little Lonsdale, Lonsdale, Exhibition and Spring streets. Since the 1980s, archaeologists and historians have pieced together the rich and complex history of this area, revealing a working-class and immigrant community that was much more than just a slum. The Commonwealth Block, Melbourne delves into the complex social, cultural and economic history of this forgotten community.