Foundations for a City

Building Sydney Town Hall

Cleaning the Town Hall Clock

Cleaning the Town Hall Clock, 1937
(image: City of Sydney Archives, CRS 46/2/32)
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Who built the Sydney Town Hall? When was it built? Ask these questions and you will get any number of answers. For a public building of such stature, this confusion might at first seem strange, but perhaps it was inevitable. With so much prestige attached to it and with so many interested parties – architects, aldermen, mayors and paid officers – it became a building which owed its creation to many. For some, their involvement was an exercise in self-aggrandisement, for others it was all in a day’s work.

Foundations for a City unravels the complexities of building Sydney Town Hall. Through plans, archival documents and historic photographs the foundations for a town hall are laid and the dreams for a city are recorded. There are many skeletons in the closet: gravesites, scandals, sackings, resignations and plenty of municipal puffery.


Year of the Built EnvironmentYear of the Built Environment 2004

This virtual exhibition was developed as part of the City’s contribution to the Year of the Built Environment 2004 and was launched during the National Trust Heritage Festival, 24 April – 2 May 2004.


City of Sydney