City and town halls

City and town halls

A city hall or town hall is the chief administrative building of a city [ Definition of city hall. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary.] Retrieved on 2008-07-13.] or town's administration and usually houses the city or town council, its associated departments and their employees. It is also usually the base of the city, town, borough, or county mayor.


In North America, a hall is labeled a "city" or "town" hall depending on the size or legal type of the municipality it serves. City halls are usually found in larger cities and town halls in smaller urban areas.

In the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, and many Commonwealth countries, "town hall" is the more common term, even when it is located in a city. County Council administrations in the UK are generally based in a building, by analogy, called "County Hall". In Scotland municipal government in larger cities will be found in building described as "City Chambers".

Among other exceptions are:
* The City of London's Guildhall, where the building's name is used. City Hall is the seat of the Mayor of London and Mansion House the home of the Lord Mayor.
* Brisbane, where the Brisbane City Hall is an example of an Australian local council that has a "city hall".
* Birmingham, England, where Birmingham Town Hall is a concert hall and the city's administration is housed in the City of Birmingham Council House.
* Cheltenham, England, where the Town Hall is an assembly rooms and the borough council is housed in the "Municipal Offices".
* Leeds, England, where Leeds Town Hall is primarily a concert venue. There are a few minor administrative functions, although the City Council is based in Leeds Civic Hall.
* Liverpool, England, Liverpool Town Hall, where the building is the Official Residence of the City's Lord Mayor. The City Council's offices are located in the Municipal Buildings.
* Sheffield, England, where Sheffield City Hall houses a concert hall and ballroom.

Alternatively, there are "town" halls to be found in cities such as Manchester, Sheffield, Melbourne, and Sydney.


As symbols of local government, many city and town halls have distinctive architecture. They may occupy historically significant buildings. Cities may also try to use these buildings to promote and enhance the quality of life through unique structures and features to house their offices.

In some cases, "civic centers" have been established that serve not only as buildings for government functions, but also have facilities for various civic and cultural activities. These may include art shows, stage performances, exhibits, festivals, etc.

City hall buildings may also serve as icons that symbolize their cities. An example is the Los Angeles City Hall, which has been featured in many Hollywood films.


"City hall" can be used by metonymy for "municipal government" or for government in general, as in the axiom "You can't fight city hall". "Town hall" tends to have less formal connotations (cf. Town meeting).

See also

*Town Meeting
*Royal Palace of Amsterdam (was a town hall and for a long time the largest (public) administrative building in Europe)


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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