City Cite was set up by Ballarat Grammar in 2001 to provide a city experience for their Year 9 students. The Headmaster of Ballarat Grammar, Stephen Higgs' vision was to have a number of partner schools that would also use City Cite. From 2001 to 2007 City Cite was based in Swanston Street. In 2008 City Cite moved to 474 Flinders Street to a purpose-designed floor for Middle Years Students' learning. This concept has grown to the extent that, in recent times, over 30 schools and other organisations have used the City Cite venue each year.
The schools come from all sectors and types: State Secondary, Independent, single sex and co-educational. The expectation in 2001 was that the venue and programs would appeal more to country schools. It has turned out that Melbourne Metropolitan schools have seen the need to bring their students into the city and comprise over 80% of the schools involved at City Cite in the past few years.