THE GROWTH OF THE CITY FROM 1840 UNTIL 1900
The South Australia Colonisation Act 1834 (UK) provided for the operation of local government in the colony and the Municipal Corporation Act 1840, passed by Governor Gawler, made Adelaide the second oldest City in the British Commonwealth outside Britain itself. Only Toronto in Canada, established in 1834, is an older local government.
The first elections for the ACC were held in October 1840 and James Fisher was elected as Mayor. The economy became depressed and the ACC failed financially after little more than a year. The affairs of the City were transferred to a City Commission consisting of five persons nominated by the Governor. The Commission had the power to levy rates and was responsible for maintaining the streets and bridges as well as constructing sewers and establishing waterworks.
William Light's original plan had identified some uses to be located in the Park Lands, as described in Chapter 1. Schedule J to the Municipal Corporation Act for the City of Adelaide 1849 clarified that the Park Lands were under the care, control and management of the ACC except for Government Reserves, which included West Terrace Cemetery.
By the 1830s there were substantial railway lines in Britain and one criticism of Light's Plan for the City was that he made no provision for the inevitable impact of a railway. However, Mary Thomas has noted that Light considered a railway to the port would be required. The Adelaide City and Port Railway Act 1850 allocated land for a railway to be built to Port Adelaide which would go through the Park Lands to the west of the City from a terminus on North Terrace. Construction started in 1852 and the railway was the first major alienation of the Park Lands.