Smith Street history is rich and diverse, ranging from Indigenous meeting places to heritage listed buildings such as the Collingwood and Fitzroy town halls. The City of Yarra has prepared a Heritage Walk for Smith Street.
Smith Street in Collingwood was developed as a route to Heidelberg by early settlers.
Subdivision of the area around Smith Street began in 1838 with the last subdivision at the Alexandra Parade end completed in 1854. Smith Street has always been a retail strip, and at the turn of the 19th century was a major shopping centre for metropolitan Melbourne.
Many of the original buildings constructed along Smith Street were replaced by more substantial premises in the 1870s and 1880s. The street attracted a number of banks, and retail emporia. Smith Street had a number of businesses which combined manufacturing and retailing on a large scale. The most notable business was Foy and Gibsons which had a large manufacturing plant in Collingwood (Oxford and Cambridge Streets), and retail stores on Smith Street.
The first power driven transport along Smith Street was a cable tram, which was opened in 1887. Whilst many of the buildings have had their ground levels altered, the upper levels are largely intact.