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Subject: Cultural Studies »

Jim Jupp on the politics of North Carlton

James Jupp.

Political scientist Jim Jupp describes the politics of North Carlton, an area of Jewish Italian and Australian communities



Date Added:

13 February 2009


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I started at the university in 1957, so that I moved into North Carlton eventually, which is very close to the university, which was one reason for moving there and also in those days very cheap. And this was basically a working class area, with dominated by the declining boot trade which meant there was still a large, old Aussie working class there, which is now almost totally disappeared.


There was also a Jewish community who originated in Poland in the 1920s, and there was a centre of Yiddish culture there and the Kadima in the next street, one or two Kosher restaurants and cafes still left around in Lygon Street and the Jewish baker on the other side of the road, from who I used to get my bread. Now all that’s disappeared too, the synagogue’s closed, the Kadima has now an Italian centre and there are no kosher restaurants in Carlton because they would go broke if there were.


So there was this ethnic change happening, with the disappearance of the Jewish community moving down to Caulfield, where they’re very concentrated. But they were – and the old working class beginning to move out because the industry was disappearing. And they were being replaced already by Italians because there had been an Italian community in Lygon Street since before the war, who owned some of the – one or two cafés and Nino Borsari’s bicycle shop and so on. That was a pre-war generation, they all lived in one little street in fact.


And that probably attracted other Italians to that area but it was mainly because it was a lot of rental and divided housing and that’s suitable for Italian migrants so that Lygon Street was starting to become Italianised, although fairly early stages. And of course, the restaurant trade in Melbourne was very restricted because of the licensing laws, that there were virtually no alcohol could be consumed except I think in four restaurants in the whole of Melbourne. Two of which were Italian in fact. So that the enormous strip of Italian restaurants which sends – extends for a mile up Lygon Street, wasn’t there, there were just one or two. But that was – it was starting.


And then by the 1960s, the Italian intake started to decline because Italy was becoming more prosperous and was replaced by Greeks. So there was then a big Greek movement into that area. So on one side of my house I had an Italian family and on the other side of the house I had a Greek club which used to play Greek music until four o'clock in the morning. So I got very attracted to Greek music by force. And so that really that area was the main centre for Greek and Italian settlement for most of the 1960s.


End transcript