Carlton North is a residential suburb 4 km north of Melbourne. Its southern boundary is Princes Street/Cemetery Road. On its west is Princes Park, next to which is the Melbourne General Cemetery.
In 1853 both the Melbourne General Cemetery and a penal stockade came to Carlton North. Melbourne's first cemetery at the Flagstaff Gardens was over-full by 1849, and an 8 ha site was laid out to the north. By 1853 the very obvious increase in population persuaded the Government to also close Melbourne's second cemetery (now the Queen Victoria Market site), to all except those claiming a grave or vault there. The 8 ha site in Carlton North was doubled and the resulting Melbourne General Cemetery was laid out by the Government Botanist, Ferdinand von Mueller.
The stockade (called the Collingwood Stockade, as Carlton was not named in 1853), was opened beside a bluestone quarry. These sites are now the Lee Street primary school and the Canning Street neighbourhood reserve respectively. Carlton North's geological structure fortunately had the basaltic land ending just east of the cemetery, which is on mudstone or sandstone.
Carlton (south of Grattan Street) was subdivided and the stockade made an asylum for the next 7 years.
Carlton North was subdivided in 1869 between Princes and Fenwick Streets. The final subdivision was at Princes Hill, north of the cemetery, in 1876-79. The settlement was almost all residential, brick, and much of it two storeyed or terraced. The standard was a step up from many of the timber cottages in Carlton. Around the north of the suburb some of the architecture was Federation period and Californian bungalows.
Public transport provided three north-south tram services: Nicholson Street (1887), Rathdowne Street (1889-1936) and Lygon Street (1916). There was also an east-west train service at the very north – the Inner Circle (1888-1948). Shopping strips in Carlton North reflect the tram routes, the strongest areas being in Rathdowne and Nicholson Streets.
Carlton North's first primary school was opened on the Lee Street asylum site in 1873. The present building (1877) is on the Victorian Heritage Register. The Princes Hill primary school was opened in 1959.
At its border near Carlton, Carlton North became involved in the Housing Commission's slum reclamation program when the Lee Street block was proclaimed in 1968. The block was near Princes Street, also threatened with becoming a conduit for traffic off the Eastern Freeway. In 1969 Princes Hill residents participated in the formation of the Carlton Association, soon to become an influential body for changing Government and Council policies. The Commission's Lee Street proposal was stopped and the Association went on to influence traffic-restraint programs brought in by the Council.
The extremely successful gentrification of Carlton North led a newspaper columnist to observe in 1992:
On North Carlton's gracious streets the student's bicycles vie for footpath supremacy with well-dressed thirty-something mothers. Pushing their pricey strollers, their offspring dressed in Osh-Kosh, these women head out of their heritage-coloured terraces en route for banana and gingercake at Cafe Paragon . . .
Princes Park is west of Carlton North. It was tentatively reserved as parkland in 1844, permanently reserved in 1854, and the Melbourne council was made one of its joint trustees in 1873. In 1897 the Carlton Football Club gained permissive occupancy of an oval as its home ground. The Council became the park's Committee of Management in 1917 and under a special Act leased the oval to the Club in 1966. The oval later became a home ground for the Hawthorn Football Club, which was replaced by the Footscray Football Club. In 1993 the oval was named Optus Oval, arising from a sponsorship deal. Enlargement of the oval's capacity and car parking in the park have caused some friction with local residents.
The Inner Circle railway line ran across the top of Carlton North. The railway stations lay unstaffed after 1948, until the goods line was last in use in 1980. In 1983 the Carlton North railway station was made a community centre and a linear park created along the former train line. The open space was contested when the State Labor Government built housing on it in 1992, the Government being opposed by an alliance between residents and left-wing unionists. Ultimately a number of units were built, several on railways land that had been commercially leased.
The median house price in Carlton North in 1987 was 38% above the median for metropolitan Melbourne and in 1996 it was 85% above the metropolitan median.
Resident groups actively protested against the controversial proposed East West tunnel link, an 18 km road link impacting on Carlton North in 2014.
Carlton North's census populations have been:
Carlton Forest Project, Among the terraces, c1991
Between two worlds: Jews, Italians and Carlton, Museum of Victoria, 1992
William S. Logan, The gentrification of inner Melbourne: a political geography of inner city housing, University of Queensland Press, 1985
Nigel Lewis and Associates, Carlton, North Carlton and Princes Hill Conservation Study, 1984