Melbourne was founded in 1835 when settler John Batman declared at a point on the northern bank of the Yarra River (at the end of where William Street is now) would be "the place for a village". In 1837, surveyor Robert Hoddle designed Melbourne's central grid pattern which was aligned with the Yarra River and consisted of main thoroughfares 30 metres wide with narrower east-west service lanes. This grid became Melbourne's central business district, bounded by La Trobe Street, Spring Street, Flinders Street and Spencer Street. This created a spacious layout for the city centre which has allowed Melbourne's tram network to remain in place despite demand for road space.
The suburbs immediately surrounding Melbourne (starting from the north and going around clockwise) are North Melbourne, Parkville, Carlton, Fitzroy, East Melbourne, Richmond, South Yarra, Prahran, St Kilda, Albert Park, South Melbourne, Southbank, Docklands and West Melbourne.
Melbourne's city centre is characterised by spacious, tree-lined streets, many with tram lines running along them. The retail precinct includes the Melbourne Central Shopping Centre complete with its own underground railway station, the Bourke Street pedestrian Mall, the part-time Swanston Street Mall, and Collins Street which is home to exclusive fashion and jewellery stores. Chinatown, located along the eastern end of Little Bourke Street, features traditional Chinese shopping and dining experiences, established during the gold rush of the 1850s. A well-know landmark is Federation Square which is situated across the road from Flinders Street Station and opens out onto the Yarra River and adjacent parkland, features the city's official visitor information centre, cafes, restaurants, and a hotel.
Melbourne is a mix of old and new. Exclusive shopping arcades and the bustling Queen Victoria Market, along with historical landmarks from centuries ago, blend in with modern office towers. The Rialto Towers in Collins Street is the central business district's tallest building and an observation deck on level 55 was open to the public up until 2009. Views of the city can be enjoyed from the taller Eureka Tower across the Yarra River in neighbouring Southbank or the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel at Docklands.
Melbourne boasts extensive parklands, with many centred around the Yarra River to the south-east of the central business district. Birrarung Marr, Melbourne's newest park, is located next to Federation Square, while the Kings Domain and Royal Botanic Gardens, between St Kilda Road and the Yarra River, feature the Sidney Myer Music Bowl, several lakes, a large collection of historical monuments and memorials, and pathways all of which traverse manicured gardens and lawns. The Shrine of Remembrance, in Kings Domain, is the scene of an annual Anzac Day dawn service, and includes a visitor centre as well as a viewing balcony inside the shrine which offers spectacular views. Across the Yarra River is Melbourne Park and Olympic Park, featuring international standard sporting and entertainment arenas.