Council history

In 1859 Brisbane was declared a municipality - a city with its own local government.

The city was named after Sir Thomas Makdougall Brisbane, who was a noted astronomer and sixth Governor of New South Wales from 1821 to 1825.

First election

The first election for the municipal council was held on 13 October 1859. There were 37 candidates for the nine positions on council. 

John Petrie, a notable builder and stonemason, was unanimously elected first mayor. The first aldermen were men who had helped to establish Brisbane as an important settlement in the north. 

City of Brisbane Act

In 1924, the Queensland State Parliament passed the City of Brisbane Act to set up a single government in Brisbane. Before this, the Brisbane area had been divided up into 20 local authorities and joint boards. 

The act reduced the number of aldermen for the Brisbane area from more than 200 down to 20.

The newly elected Council, headed by Brisbane's first Lord Mayor William Jolly, took over the local administration on 1 October 1925. 

As part of the state's Local Government Legislative Review, a number of acts relating to local government have been, and continue to be, reviewed and updated. This includes the City of Brisbane Act 2010 which became law on 1 July 2010 and replaced a number of existing acts.

You can view the City of Brisbane Act online at the Queensland Government website.    

City Hall history

Brisbane City Hall was officially opened on 8 April 1930 by the then Governor of Queensland, Sir John Goodwin.

The building covers two acres (0.9 hectares) and at the time was recognised as one of Australia's most outstanding structures.

City Hall is a landmark symbol of the city and is featured on Brisbane City Council corporate logo. To find out more about Council's logo see Council symbols

For information about visiting City Hall and hiring City Hall function rooms visit the City Hall section.

Construction of City Hall

In 1909 architects designed a new town hall but the contract was terminated when Brisbane property owners refused to approve the 180,000 pounds to build it.

The first foundation stone was laid in 1917 by the then Governor, Sir Hamilton Gould-Adams, before a new design had even been drawn.

In 1917, architects Hall and Prentice were employed to submit designs for Council offices and a public hall. Their design, submitted in November 1919, was estimated at 480,000 pounds. The design was accepted and the then Prince of Wales laid a second foundation stone in July 1920.

Building City Hall was a major undertaking in the 1920s, ranking second only to the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It took 10 years to build at a cost of around 980,000 pounds.

City Hall offices opened for business on 3 January 1928.

Landmark and heritage qualities

For 30 years City Hall was the tallest building in Brisbane. The chiming of the clock bell could be heard as far away as Wynnum and the clock tower could be read through binoculars from Camp Hill.

For more than 60 years it has been the main location of Brisbane City Council employees and an event location for the people of Brisbane.

The building is now listed with the National Trust and included in the National Estate. It is also included in the Queensland Heritage Act of 1992.

Architecture and building materials 

The architectural style of City Hall has been described as 'inter-war academic classical'. Classical styles, with Ancient Rome and Greece influences, were popular for major public buildings and monuments during the 1920s and 1930s.

The building's exterior is built from ashlar coursed sandstone from the Helidon district near Ipswich. Inside the building, Queensland maple and silky oak timbers were used.

There were three types of marble used in the interior finishing of City Hall. The white marble came from Italy, the black marble from Belgium and the brown marble came from Orange in New South Wales.

King George Square history

King George Square was opened in 1975. It is an open public area at the entrance of City Hall.

Within King George Square there are a number of statues including:

  • Petrie Tableau: erected in 1988 to mark Australia’s bi-centennial. It depicts the Petrie family who were the first free-settling family in the local district
  • King George V Memorial: erected in 1938 in honour of King George V, who was the ruling monarch of England when City Hall was opened
  • Speaker’s Corner: an area set up in 1991 for free speech. The three statues depict prominent public speakers from Queensland’s history. They are: 
    • left: Steele Rudd, a famous storyteller and writer who created the 'Dad and Dave' characters from the 'On Our Selection' stories
    • centre: Emma Miller, a suffragette and trade unionist at the turn of the century who was instrumental in introducing women’s vote and rights for Australia
    • right: Sir Charles Lilley, a former Premier and Chief Justice of Queensland, one time member for the Valley and early editor in chief for the Moreton Bay Courier (now Courier-Mail)
  • Forme Del Mito bronze figurines: Council purchased the figurines when they were brought to Brisbane for World Expo 1988. Designed by Italian artist Arnaldo Pomodoro, the Forme Del Mito is derived from the Greek tragedy, Agamemnon. Each figure represents a force and principal character