Glasgow City Chambers

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The City Chambers in Glasgow, Scotland has functioned as the headquarters of Glasgow City Council since 1996, and of preceding forms of civic government in the city since 1889, located on the eastern side of the city's George Square. The building was constructed between 1882 and 1888 by the architect William Young and is an eminent example of Victorian civic architecture.

Inaugurated in August 1888 by Queen Victoria, the first council meeting was held within the buildings in October 1889.[1] The building originally had an area of 5016 square metres. In 1923, an extension to the east side of the building in John Street was opened and in 1984 Exchange House in George Street was completed, increasing the size of the City Chambers complex to some 14,000 square metres.

Contents

History

The need for a new city chambers had been apparent since the 18th century, with the old Tolbooth at Glasgow Cross becoming insufficient for the purposes of civic government in an increasing town with greater political responsibilities. In 1814, the Tolbooth was sold - with the exception of the steeple, which still remains - and the council chambers moved to Jail Square in the Saltmarket, near Glasgow Green. Subsequent moves were made to Wilson Street and Ingram Street.[2] In the early 1880s, City Architect John Carrick was asked to identify a suitable site for a purpose built City Council Chambers. Carrick identified the east side of George Square, which was then bought.

The new City Chambers initially housed Glasgow Town Council from 1888 to 1895, when it was replaced by Glasgow Corporation. It remained the Corporation's headquarters until it was replaced by Glasgow District Council under the wider Strathclyde Regional Council in 1975. The City Chambers has been the headquarters of Glasgow City Council since 1996, when it replaced the District Council with the abolition of the Strathclyde Region.

Exterior

The building is an interpretation of Renaissance Classicism incorporating Italianate styles with a vast range of ornate decoration, used to express the wealth and industrial export-led economic prosperity of the Second City of the Empire.[3] The exterior sculpture, by James Alexander Ewing, included the central Jubilee Pediment as its centrepiece. The Pediment celebrated Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee. It depicts Victoria enthroned, surrounded by emblematic figures of Scotland, England, Ireland and Wales, alongside the colonies of the British Empire.[4] Ewing also designed the apex sculptures of Truth, Riches, and Honour, and the statues of The Four Seasons on the Chamber's tower. The central apex figure of Truth is popularly known as Glasgow's Statue of Liberty, because of its close resemblance to the similarly posed, but very much larger, statue in New York harbour.[5]

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