Sydney Town Hall in Sydney

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The Sydney Town Hall is a landmark sandstone building located in the heart of Sydney. It stands opposite the Queen Victoria Building and alongside St Andrew's Cathedral. Sitting above the busy Town Hall station and between the cinema strip on George Street and the Central Business District, the steps of the Town Hall are a popular meeting place.

History and description

The Town Hall was built in the 1880s -- on the site of an old cemetery -- from local Sydney sandstone in the grand Victorian Second Empire style, and has been described as having "lavishly ornamented composition with focal tower and fanciful roofs." It remains the only non-religious city building from the era to retain its original function and interior. The building houses the Sydney City Council Chamber, reception rooms, the Centennial Hall and offices for the Lord Mayor and elected councillors. The Centennial Hall (main hall) contains Sydney Town Hall Grand Organ, the world's largest pipe organ with tubular pneumatic action, built from 1886 to 1889 and installed in 1890 by the English firm of William Hill & Son. This organ possesses one of only two full-length 64′ organ stops in the world (the Contra-Trombone in the pedal). Before the opening of the Sydney Opera House and its Concert Hall, the Town Hall was Sydney's premier concert hall, and many notable performances took place there.

The Town Hall steps are a popular meeting place. Town Hall management has recently deployed measures such as stopping people from congregating on the Town Hall Steps during the day time and the presence of security guards on the Town Hall steps at night. The alleged reason for the deployment of additional security outside Town Hall is said to be increased incidents of assaults and graffiti.

In the later years, it has been discovered that Town Hall lies on top of part of a cemetery complex. Renovations were undertaken in 2008/9 primarily to upgrade the mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and communication services within the building. The renovations, completed by Sydney builder Kell & Rigby, included removing 6,000 cubic meters of sandstone from underneath the building. The Town Hall is listed on the Register of the National Estate and is part of the important Town Hall group of heritage-listed buildings, which also includes the Queen Victoria Building, St Andrews Cathedral, the Gresham Hotel and the former Bank of New South Wales.


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