Inside this section
This online exhibition shows the complexities of building Sydney Town Hall explained with plans, documents and historic photographs.
Foundations for a City
Struggle for power
The City boundaries have been fairly elastic. In 1909, the Municipality of Camperdown was amalgamated with the City and in 1949 Alexandria, Darlington, Erskineville, Newtown, Redfern, Waterloo, Paddington and Glebe were included. Most of these suburbs were shed again in 1968, largely making up the new municipality of South Sydney.
In 1982, South Sydney was brought back into the City, only to be carved off again in 1988, when the City Council area contracted to 6.19 square kilometres, smaller than its original size. The entire area covered by South Sydney Council and parts of Leichhardt Council were returned to the City's control by 2004.
Municipalities in NSW are established by an act of the state government, which determines their powers and funding. For much of its existence the City has competed with the state government for control of the city. The Council of 1842 had insufficient funds to provide adequate services so the state government abolished it in October 1853, and administered the city for the next four years though three commissioners. The new New South Wales Legislative Assembly restored the Council in 1856.
Council has been dissolved three times since; in 1928-30, 1967-69 and 1987-88 when, amid allegations of incompetence and corruption, Council was dismissed by the state government and the city was administered by unelected commissioners.
The state government also has the power to remove whole districts from Council, as it did with the creation of the Sydney Cove Redevelopment Authority in 1968 and the Darling Harbour Authority in 1984.
Local authorities have also had powers and responsibilities removed from them and taken over by the state government.
Heading image shows York Street, looking south from Market Street, in a watercolour sketch by W.B.Spong 1889. (SRC654)
Last updated: Tuesday, 4 December 2012