On December 21, 1896, 57 people voted to incorporate Belvedere as a city - 33 people voted for it, 27 voted against it, and three votes were invalidated. Before that there was the Belvedere Land Company, so by the time of the actual incorporation there were homes and building sites, a water system, roads, and other amenities already in place thanks to the developers.
In the early days Belvedere matrons living or summering on Belvedere Island eschewed the rough and tumble of their neighboring railroad community's Main Street in Tiburon, and there was no need to trade there. Belvedere had Beach Road, which included the post office, grocery store, telephone exchange, beauty shop, laundry, boatyard, plumber's shop, coal, wood and ice yard, blacksmith's shop, and later a gas station and even a jail. The main commercial building, which also had living units, was the Belvedere Land Company. They were designed by architect Albert Farr. He also designed the Farr Cottages across on Beach Road. All these buildings exist today almost as they were then
Form of Government
Until the city-manager form of government was adopted in 1954, the style of governing was by commission, with each of the five council members taking a specific responsibility. There were commissions of the basic public services: sewers, road, fire protection, and police. Residents called the particular commissioners at their house if there was a problem or complaint.
Belvedere City Hall, twice enlarged, was once the local Presbyterian Church. The building was rolled down the hill from its original site at Bayview Avenue and Laurel Avenue in 1949. Many of its beautiful features have been preserved at its present site on San Rafael Avenue.
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