Carnegie is a residential suburb 12 km south-east of central Melbourne on the railway line between Caulfield and Oakleigh. The area was originally named Rosstown after William Ross, an entrepreneur who constructed a railway line through the area from Oakleigh to Elsternwick. The line had the dual objectives of transporting sugar beet from Gippsland to a processing mill at Elsternwick and opening up land for residential subdivision. (The latter objective had good prospects until the South Yarra to Oakleigh line was opened in 1879, as it was supported by the minister for Railways, Thomas Bent, whose electorate also included Elsternwick.) However, the failure of the Rosstown railway, made worse by the 1890s Depression and its effect on land speculation, made the name unpopular. In May 1909, the railway station was renamed Carnegie, allegedly with the support of residents and the progress associations who thought it would be an inducement to obtain funds from the American Carnegie Foundation for a library. Neither did the funds appear nor is there contemporary documentary evidence of the idea, but no better explanation has been given.
A large part of pre-settlement Carnegie was the Leman Swamp, a place for peat extraction and, in 1874, a proposed site for sugar beet processing which needed a reliable water supply. By 1876 Ross, who was the promoter of the sugar beet industry, owned or leased all the land presently known as Carnegie. The Rosstown Hotel was operating by 1882 and the primary school opened in 1887. By the turn of the century estates were being opened up in the vicinity of the railway station.
In 1913 the tramline along Glen Huntly Road reached Grange Road, the western edge of Carnegie, and in 1926 it was extended eastwards through the middle of Carnegie to Koornang Road. This tram route served the southern part of Carnegie, which was fully developed by the 1940s. Residential blocks were sufficiently large in many cases to be recycled as sites for flats and home units in the 1960s and 1970s. Carnegie's subdivisions had coincided with Caulfield council's concern with town planning, chiefly brought about by councillor (Sir) Frederick Eggleston (1909-20), and allotments were deliberately large.
Carnegie has a strip shopping centre along Koornang Road, which has widened footpaths for pedestrianisation. There are two large reserves, Lord Reserve/Koornang Park on the former Leman Swamp (ovals and swimming pool) and Packer Park (ovals and velodrome).
There is a large Catholic church at the corner of Neerim and Grange Roads, together with a Catholic primary school (1912). To the south in Grange Road there is a former Methodist church (1909) now used for Greek Orthodox worship and to the east in Neerim Road there is a Uniting church (formerly Methodist, 1914). Both former Methodist buildings are architecturally distinctive and heritage-listed. The Carnegie primary school had an enrolment of 507 in 2014.
Carnegie's census populations have been:
Peter R. Murray and John C. Wells, From sand, swamp and heath . . . a history of Caulfield, City of Caulfield, 1980