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Venue I - Education and Outreach Programme

City Hall

For many decades, on the site of the City Hall and Supreme Court stood a trio of large 1830s bungalows designed by George D. Coleman and inhabited by prominent early European pioneers until they were converted into hotels n the mid-19th century. Two of these were demolished to make way for City Hall, or the Municipal Building, as it was then known. The building was, in a way, long overdue. The Municipal Council had originated in the mid-19th century as a series of ad-hoc committees formed by merchants.

In 1856, a proper Municipal Council had been established and was made responsible for looking after roads and bridges, markets and street lighting and for providing water supply to the town from the reservoirs. Without a building to call its own, the council operated first from rooms in the Town Hall then later from several other locations about town.

City Hall was designed by Municipal Architects, A. Gordon and Assistant Architect F. D. Meadows, and was completed in 1929. A generously proportioned stairway leads to the main entrance that also conceals the porte-cochere. The main feature, however, is the magnificent row of Corinthian columns.

It was originally named the Municipal Building and housed the Municipal Council, which was responsible for the development of infrastructure in Singapore. The Municipal Council and Municipal Building were renamed the City Council and City Hall respectively in 1951. By 1963, the City Council was deemed to have had its day and laid to rest. Its functions were allocated to the Public Utilities Board and other government bodies. Since independence, City Hall has housed various government departments including the Prime Minister's Office, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the former Ministry of Culture and the Industrial Arbitration Court.

The spacious front steps form one of Singapore's most historic public spaces: here, in 1945, Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten, accepted the Japanese Surrender from General Itagaki, formally ending the Japanese Occupation of Singapore; here, in 1951, Singapore was proclaimed a city by Royal Charter granted by King George VI; here in 1959, the proclamation of self-government in Singapore was made by then prime minister Lee Kuan Yew; and here, Mr. Lee declared Singapore an independent republic in 1965. On 18 June 2005, the Supreme Court moved out of both the City Hall and Supreme Court buildings into a new Supreme Court building just across the road. The road was also renamed from Colombo Court to Supreme Court Lane. As part of the transformation of Singapore's civic district into a bustling arts and cultural hub, City Hall will be converted into a world class national art gallery by 2010.