The corner of Swanston and Bourke is one of Melbourne's busiest intersections, where the mall meets the main drag.
And while the main buildings that ring this corner haven't changed for decades, there is one wonderful feature that is missing from the present day location: Foy's Rooftop Fun Park.
Foy's was a department store, along the lines of Myer and David Jones. Started in the 1870's as a Collingwood drapery by Mark Foy, the business expanded in the 1880's; The Foy family went into partnership with William Gibson in 1883 and new stores, originally called 'Foy and Gibson's' began selling a wider variety of goods. The chain soon expanded interstate, opening shops in Sydney, Adelaide and Perth.
|Foy and Gibson Catalogue, 1902.|
|A Foy and Gibson store, around the turn of the century.|
The shop was popularly referred to a 'Foy's' however and this name was officially adopted in the early twentieth century and retained, even after the Foy family sold their stake in the business.
The Rooftop Fun Park was a Christmas gimmick that began shortly after the Second World War. Foy's central Melbourne store was already known for it's elaborate Christmas decorations, including a giant beckoning Santa that featured on the facade annually, and the Fun Park expanded on the idea of Foy's as Christmas central. It was widely promoted in the local media:
The Rooftop Fun Park featured rides, a playground, a petting zoo, sideshows and even (at one time) boats. A few pictures remain of the park in operation:
|Photos of a family at the park form the 1960's. You can just make out|
the skyline in the background, which shows the elevation of the park.
It's difficult, if not impossible, to imagine children being allowed to ride horses on the roof of a city building in our contemporary, more regulated, age.
Sadly, the fun came to an end in the late 1960's. The Foy's chain was taken over by David Jones and the iconic Melbourne building sold to Woolworth's, relegating the Rooftop Park and the giant Santa to history. A Telstra shop occupies the street corner today.