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City Hall

City Hall (18)

Singapore City Hall is an emblematic building that was declared a national monument on the 14th February, 1992, and is worth visiting for its architecture and historic details and, of course, as a photo opportunity.

City Hall was designed and built between 1926 and 1929 by architects of the municipality, Gordans and Meadows, and was built on the site of two former residencies built in the 1830s by the Irish architect George Drumgold Coleman, who played a crucial role in the construction of the civil infrastructure of Singapore after its foundation by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1819. The homes belonged to Dr William Montgomerie of the East India Company and Thomas Church, a resident counsellor.

The building is Greek in style and possesses great symmetry, with sweeping staircases and huge, imposing Doric columns that have doubtless witnessed some of the city's most significant historical events. Here are some of them.

During the Japanese occupation of World War II, on the 24th October, 1942, the Indian politician Subhas Chandra Bose visited Singapore, managing to convene a large number of Indians in an effort to obtain their support for the Indian National Army. Soon after, in 1947, India obtained independence.

Without a doubt one of the most memorable events to occur here happened on the 12th of September, 1945. On this date the Japanese general Seishiro Itagaki surrendered to Lord Mountbatten, thus ending World War II in Singapore. 

On the 22nd September, 1951, the city was presented with the Royal Charter of King George VI, thereby allowing Singapore to establish its first local government. As a result the name of the building was changed from Municipal Building to City Hall, as it is known today.

Also in this building, in 1959, Lee Kuan Yew declared Singapore's autonomy, the new national anthem was played and, for the first time ever, the national flag was raised. Singapore's independence from Malaysia was also declared here in 1963.

As you can see, it is here that the major events that have marked a before and an after in the history of Singapore have always taken place. Located opposite the open space of the Padang playing fields, it has provided the perfect place for citizens to attend events and commemorations en masse.

For example, since its independence from Malaysia and the creation of the Republic on the 9th August, 1965, a spectacular commemoration parade has been held here on Independence Day every year, when the steps of the building are given over to the most exclusive VIP seats.

It was here that Singapore residents came to pay their respects and say their final farewells to the first president of the republic Inche Yusof Bin Ishak, who died in 1970. In this, the 21st century, the building has continued to play host to defining moments such as the Singapore Biennale or the meeting of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank Group.

Today, following a comprehensive refurbishment, it has been transformed into the National Art Gallery. This is now a creative space designed to enrich, entertain and encourage citizen participation among both Singapore residents and visitors from the world over. It thus joins the National Museum, the Museum of Art and the Museum of Asian Civilisations to offer a perfect setting for the interpretation and understanding of the culture and heritage of Singapore's visual arts.

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