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Jawnadelphia Aug 7, 2017 10:41 PM

It was a big summer for old William Penn, as the 37 foot tall (and 26 tons) bronze statue was given a thorough cleaning.






Jawnadelphia Mar 2, 2018 11:39 AM




geomorph Oct 21, 2018 3:41 AM

Again, not the most beautiful, but here is an example from a growing newer city:

City Hall: Bellevue City Hall
Location: Bellevue, Washington
Architect: SRG
Completed: 2006

All photos taken by geomorph in 2018.

ainvan Oct 21, 2018 4:37 AM


Designed by architects Henri-Maurice Perrault and Alexander Cowper Hutchison, and built between 1872 and 1878 in the Second Empire style.
IMG_5199 by Brian Stamper, on Flickr
Montreal City Hall by Ian McGill, on Flickr
Hôtel de ville de Montréal by Richard Baghdadlian, on Flickr

Hindentanic Oct 29, 2018 10:43 AM

San Antonio City Hall, back in another era, looked like this:
(Photo from Texas Travel)
(Photo by Ernst Raba courtesy the San Conservation Society hosted by the San Antonio Express-News)

The small but charming 1891 landmark at the center of the city's Military Plaza was a Gilded Age / Victorian Era attempt to civilize and erase the more unsightly vestiges of what had become a dusty, open air, Old West market full of iconic chili stands:
(Photo by Mary E. Jacobson courtesy of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, on Flickr)
(Photo by Mary E. Jacobson courtesy of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, on Flickr)
(Photo by Mary E. Jacobson courtesy of the DeGolyer Library, Southern Methodist University, on Flickr)

Back in yet another era, this was the Plaza de Armas, focal point of the Presidio San Antonio de Béxar where Spanish governors and Mexican President General Santa Anna drilled and paraded their troops.

(Image from Memoria Política de México

The city hall actually stands behind another local landmark, the San Fernando Cathedral fronting Main Plaza. Along with the military garrison and governor's palace in the presidio on Plaza de Armas, the church on Plaza de las Islas formed the foundation of Spanish colonial civic life, and that relationship symbolically continued with the new City Hall and the rebuilt cathedral:
(Photo from the San Antonio Express-News)

The growing government bureaucracy in 1927 thought to expand and "modernize" the city hall with an added floor and Beaux Arts restyling. In the process they removed the turret cupolas and inadvertently broke the clock of the central domed clock tower. Historic municipal government can be just as incompetent as modern municipal government.
(Image from HipPostcard)
(Photo by Chuck & Melissa Gregory on Let's Just Go Somewhere)

Bureaucrats will never give up their offices in the historic building nor their reserved parking spots around the plaza, but, if it were up to me, the old roofline with the turrets, cupolas, and clock dome would be restored along with a few more exotic landscape plantings. Preservationist purists would howl arguing that we shouldn't remove one piece of recent history to recreate a piece of older history, but I'm willing to let them keep the arched entry on the backside, as it does have nice details and good human scale.
(Photo by Kevin Stewart on Flickr)

Perhaps it is a symbol of the new foundations of modern society, but the City Council no longer actually meets in the old City Hall, but now in the former 1920s headquarters of the locally-based Frost Bank, which also stands besides San Fernando Cathedral. The former grand banking hall was brilliantly repurposed in 1995 into the current City Council Chambers:
(Postcard from Boston Public Library hosted on Texas Travel)
(Image from Beaty Palmer Architects)
(Photo by Scott Ball for The Rivard Report)

Being a former banking hall, the council chambers are entered almost directly from Main Plaza, making it theoretically, symbolically, and practically open and accessible for the public.
(Photo by Ryan Loyd for Texas Public Radio News)

However, last year we horrified with the ugly viral image of a local alt-right militia "deploying" aroung the Municipal Plaza Building and showing off what they think about open, participatory democracy as they stared down and tried to intimidate people going in.

(Photos by Scott Ball for The Rivard Report)

So much for the quaint Victorian notion of a progressive city hall civilizing the Wild West. Not only over the years did we lose the character of our city hall's architectural roofline, we also apparently lost the character of our principled, Western democratic society.

We're in deep trouble.

Hindentanic Nov 2, 2018 2:36 AM

As a contrast comparison, here is the Austin City Hall:
(Photo from Austin Tech Alliance)
(Photo by Brent T. Hall from
(Photo by John Anderson on The Austin City Chronicle)

It's not really my taste in civic architecture as it is too stylishly nondescript, impersonal, actually always feels like a the building has been squashed to me.
(Imagery by Google Earth from Anthony Eardley)

No, its not the glass tower in the background, its the dark shape at the foot of the tower. Anthony Eardley's essay "22 City Halls" has useful criticisms.

I recall in the late 1990s Austin's City Council was meeting in a temporary portable building while they were trying to work out plans for a new city hall. A hindrance was that the property the city owned was not ideal, and it took a complicated tangled of land swaps over several years between the city, private land speculators, and the State of Texas such that each stakeholder finally consolidated unto themselves groupings of city blocks in the Republic Park area which they considered usefully developable. The block the city ended up with for their planned city hall stood at the head of the First Street Bridge, an axial configuration symbolically replicating the larger axial arrangement of the Texas State Capitol with Congress Avenue and the Congress Avenue Bridge.

Austin in the late-1990s looked like this, with the area for the city hall project facing the riverfront on the left-hand edge of the photo:

(Photo from the Austin American-Statesman)

Spurring the development and land swap effort was Computer Science Corporation (CSC), which was lured into building a downtown complex on three city blocks rather than a more typical suburban campus. CSC would get three blocks directly encircling the block reserved for Austin City Hall, symbolically resembling a vise grip by a tech corporation around city government. Ultimately, the third CSC building on the block directly behind the city hall was not built as originally proposed, and a glass tower later took its place. It has been sarcastically said that the city hall would stand lower than the CSC buildings so that it's roofline did not obstruct views from the upper floors of the corporate headquarters, particularly of the third (and ultimately un-built) CSC building.
(Imagery from Anthony Eardley)
(Photo from ATMTX PHOTO)
(Photo from Archillume Lighting Design Inc.)

In truth, the monotonous complex they did build could just as easy have been ported from their suburban campus plans, but at least they were built to edge of their properties to form a street wall and uniform roofline. At the time, many local architects and planners envisioned building out Austin's city grid in a dense, low-rise, New Urbanist pattern, with some drawings looking idealistically reminiscent of patterns found in the grid of Barcelona and romantically preserving the small skyline dominated by panoramic views of the State Capitol and University of Texas Tower. Few anticipated future Austin becoming the Tianjin of Texas. Amusingly, all the funky angles of the built city hall building were later meant to show a break with the city grid and the surrounding CSC blocks.
(Photo from IndyAustin)

That last photo actually shows the three key projects that heralded the current construction boom of downtown Austin. The first two main buildings of the CSC Campus opened in 2001, while the third and smallest opened in 2003. Austin City Hall and the Frost Bank Tower were both completed in 2004. While many recognize the owl shaped Frost Bank Tower as the most noteworthy first newcomer on the Austin skyline, few recognize that the Austin City Hall and the CSC Campus project were also major contributing downtown projects that put a lot of investment in the downtown area but also freed up and triggered other properties for development.

Noteworthy is that a similar project is underway in San Antonio, where the construction of the new Frost Bank Headquarters will allow the city to consolidate its departments currently scattered across multiple properties and buildings into one location inside the older, soon-to-be-former Frost Bank Building, both of which can be seen here:
(Rendering from Frost Bank on the San Antonio Express-News)

It is anticipated that development in this quadrant of the downtown area will be significantly energized with the new investment and relocations of city personnel, while others hope that the consolidation of scattered municipal occupants may similarly release other properties throughout downtown for later development.

geomorph Nov 2, 2018 5:27 AM


Originally Posted by Hindentanic (Post 8365662)
As a contrast comparison, here is the Austin City Hall:

I will add some more photos of this clumsy edifice! The last photo shows the dramatic pointy protrusion that soars over the street on the city-facing facade:

City Hall: Austin City Hall
Location: Austin, Texas
Architect: Antoine Predock
Completed: 2004

All photos taken by geomorph in 2010.

geomorph Nov 2, 2018 5:48 AM

City Hall: Houston City Hall
Location: Houston, Texas
Architect: Joseph Finger
Completed: 1939

All photos taken by geomorph in 2010.

Austin55 Nov 2, 2018 8:10 PM

New city halls are always interesting. Fort Worth is expected to hold a bond soon to replace our 1970s brutalist one.

geomorph Nov 7, 2018 6:24 AM

City Hall: Oklahoma City Municipal Building
Location: Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Architect: Allied Architects of Oklahoma City
Completed: 1937

All photos taken by geomorph in 2018.

geomorph Nov 20, 2018 8:55 PM

City Hall: Old Wichita City Hall (government moved out to new building in 1976)
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Architect: William T. Proudfoot and George W. Bird
Completed: 1892

All photos taken by geomorph in 2018.

geomorph Nov 20, 2018 8:59 PM

City Hall: Wichita City Hall
Location: Wichita, Kansas
Architect: McCluggage Van Sickle & Perry
Completed: 1976

All photos taken by geomorph in 2018.

geomorph Dec 29, 2018 9:56 PM

City Hall: Tulsa Municipal Building (served as city hall until 1969)
Location: Tulsa, Oklahoma
Architect: Rush, Endicott & Rush
Completed: 1917

Photo taken by geomorph in 2018.

CaliNative Jan 22, 2019 5:51 AM

Uhh...L.A. City Hall aka The Daily Planet
Didn't scroll through all the entries, so probably it was mentioned by some. Has appeared in innumerable films. The "Daily Planet" in Superman in the '50s. Dragnet, 1950s and 1960s. Attacked by Martians in "War of the Worlds" (1953 version). Etc. No picture needed. Noble looking building with a Mayan pyramid top. Built in the 1920s. Only true skyscraper in L.A. until the 1960s. Incredible and expensive public foyer with huge columns. Great City Council chamber. Nice observation deck. Faces large public mall and large landscaped park. Very nice as city halls go.

WonderlandPark2 Jan 22, 2019 4:12 PM

Hamilton has a great International-style city hall:

(all photos mine from last spring)

CaliNative Jan 22, 2019 10:29 PM

San Diego County Administration Building
Also served as the city hall until the 1950s. Built in the 1930s as a W.P.A. project. Better than your average WPA project. Right on the bayfront.

With the entire skyline, on left

FDR came to town on dedication day.

geomorph Feb 1, 2019 4:22 AM

City Hall: Chattanooga Municipal Building
Location: Chattanooga, Tennessee
Architect: R. H. Hunt
Completed: 1908

All photos taken by geomorph in 2018.

Jawnadelphia Aug 2, 2019 4:40 PM

hauntedheadnc Aug 2, 2019 5:10 PM

It's kind of hard to argue that Philadelphia's doesn't pwn it every time.

homebucket Aug 14, 2019 8:47 PM

San Francisco's is pretty dece.

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