All that is wrong with the world…

June 15, 2011

Brisbane – The smallest downtown of any big city

Filed under: Issues...the world...etc.. — Tags: , , — allthatiswrong @ 1:03 pm

Brisbane City is the third biggest city in Australia, with just over 2 million people and an area of 5904.8 km², according to Wikipedia. Out of all the cities I have been to, I have rarely come across a city with such a small downtown/CBD in proportion to the area of the city and/or population. The density for Brisbane is just 918/km² which seems crazy when you consider it is the third biggest city in Australia.

By comparison the third biggest city in Canada, a country with a comparable ratio of population to landmass to Australia, is Vancouver which has a density of 5,335/km2 and an area of 2,878.52 km2 – roughly half that of Brisbane has a downtown that is easily twice the size of that in Brisbane. Adelaide is the 5th biggest city in Australia, with just over 1 million people and an area of 1826.9 km². The density is less than that of Brisbane at 659/km², yet their CBD is roughly twice the size of that of Brisbane’s. What’s more it actually feels like a city with side alleys, more than 20 streets in total and a vibe that something is happening. Even New Orleans with its scant 350,000 people has a downtown that is larger than Brisbane’s.

Using Google maps you it is easy to see you can walk from any point to any other point in the city in 10 minutes, generally in less time than that. The Downtown in Brisbane is at most 1 km2 which is ridiculous for such a “large” city. Most people overseas have not heard of Brisbane despite having heard of Sydney and Melbourne which isn’t surprising given it tries hard to be a country town. For a city so large with population and area I think it says a lot about the culture that the downtown is so ridiculously small. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were among the smallest in the world.

I liked living in Brisbane for a while, but there is absolutely nothing to do there. The downtown is full of businesses with the odd café or restaurant. No museums or galleries or shows or….anything. There are a few clubs open at night but most of them get boring after a while, and given our potential 2am curfew there is going to be even less to do. Brisbane is a very nice place to settle down and perhaps raise a family, but there is no way I can stay there when there is so much more going on in the world. I find it hard to identify with the majority of people who stay there, going through college and getting a job and just repeating the cycle, when there is so much more beyond.


  1. No museums or galleries? there IS Museum and Galleries in South Brisbane, the Gallery Of Modern Art is one of the largest in the world

    Comment by zero13 — February 4, 2013 @ 2:03 am

  2. Your maths needs some work. If Vancouver has an area of 2,878.52 km2 and each of those square km has on average 5,335 people that puts the population at more than 15 million! Using the same methodology, Brisbane apparently has a population of more than 5 million.

    While Brisbane is certainly no New York city, I don’t think that you looked too hard if you couldn’t find a single museum, art gallery, or theatre. Try these links: ; ; .

    As for “a vibe that something is happening” in Adelaide…well, all I can think is that you must have been there on a very, very good day.

    Comment by AH — July 13, 2013 @ 4:38 pm

    • It isn’t my math, it’s taken from the wikipedia pages for each city. I’m guessing your calculating density incorrectly. I know there is a museum or two and an art gallery or two, doesn’t have anything to do with Brisbane having the smallest downtown relative to its population.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — January 5, 2014 @ 10:09 am

  3. The art galleries are not actually in the CBD.
    They are at Southbank across the river.

    Comment by Stephen Mitchell — November 18, 2014 @ 4:26 pm

    • A distinction without a difference. I consider Southbank as part of the CBD. If Brisbane was a proper city, Southbank WOULD just be a part of the downtown.

      Comment by allthatiswrong — October 30, 2016 @ 1:50 am

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