The name "Banana Alley" stems from bananas being stored and ripened here (using ethylene gas) before being sold. The vaults are divided up into 33 separate spaces, with first tenants being recorded in 1893. With the construction of the Spencer Street Bridge in 1930 Queens Wharf was rendered inaccessible to cargo ships, and the vaults fell into disuse. A café was opened in one of the vaults in 1936, being joined by the "Pieteria" café selling pies 24 hours a day from the 1950s. Hearnes Hobbies also occupied a vault from 1946 until they moved into the basement of Flinders Street Station. Other vaults were used by newsagents as a distribution point, and the Victorian Railways Refreshment Services branch as a storage area.
The vaults were neglected and disused for many years and subsequently developed a sinister reputation in the 1970s and 80s. The vaults were used by homeless persons as shelter from Melbourne’s cold nights, and numerous attacks and murders occurred here. In 1987 the State Government carried out a $4.5 million refurbishment of the vaults in a project aimed at promoting Victorian tourism. The drawcard was "Wine Victoria", which closed after only 2 years of operation, with other vaults becoming vacant as well. Nowadays, Banana Alley is host to a number of different businesses that operate within the underground facility. These include Platform One Nightclub, a leading martial arts facility and the iconic, 24:7 Doherty's Gym.
This post is part of the Weekend Reflections meme,
and also part of the Weekly TopShot meme,
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