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Originally named Parrtown by Royal Charter in 1785, which was the amalgamation of Parrtown and Carleton, the City of Saint John grew to include the cities of Lancaster (west) and Portland (north) and the parish of Simonds.  Many believe the three bars at the entrance to City Hall represent the three amalgamated cities.  The piece is entitled “Progression” by artist Claude Roussel and was commissioned in 1971 when City Hall moved to its current location from King Street.  

For the most part, the City is divided into West Side, East Side, North End and South End.  Saint John is a "city of neighbourhoods" and most residents refer to  where they live by their neighbourhood, such as Greendale or Milford (in Saint John’s west side) or Lakewood Heights or Glen Falls (in Saint John’s east side). 

For electoral purposes, the city was divided into wards during the 2007 election, with two councillors representing each ward.