Before European settlement[ edit ] Approximate extent of Kaurna territory, based on the description by Amery Before its proclamation as a British settlement in , the area around Adelaide was inhabited by the indigenous Kaurna Aboriginal nation pronounced "Garner". Kaurna culture and language was almost completely destroyed within a few decades of European settlement of South Australia,  but extensive documentation by early missionaries and other researchers has enabled a modern revival of both.
The event is commemorated in South Australia as Proclamation Day. Wakefield had read accounts of Australian settlement while in prison in London for attempting to abduct an heiress,  and realised that the eastern colonies suffered from a lack of available labour, due to the practice of giving land grants to all arrivals. North Terrace in As it was believed that in a colony of free settlers there would be little crime, no provision was made for a gaol in Colonel Light's plan.
But by mid the South Australian Register was warning of escaped convicts from New South Wales and tenders for a temporary gaol were sought.
Adelaide's early economy started to get on its feet in with the arrival of livestock from Victoria , New South Wales and Tasmania. Wool production provided an early basis for the South Australian economy. By , wheat farms had been established from Encounter Bay in the south to Clare in the north. Gawler was recalled and replaced by George Edward Grey in Grey slashed public expenditure against heavy opposition, although its impact was negligible at this point: The city exported meat, wool, wine, fruit and wheat by the time Grey left in , contrasting with a low point in when one-third of Adelaide houses were abandoned.
South Australia became a self-governing colony in with the ratification of a new constitution by the British parliament. Secret ballots were introduced, and a bicameral parliament was elected on 9 March , by which time , people lived in the province.
Gas street lighting was implemented in , the University of Adelaide was founded in , the South Australian Art Gallery opened in and the Happy Valley Reservoir opened in In the s Australia was affected by a severe economic depression, ending a hectic era of land booms and tumultuous expansionism. Financial institutions in Melbourne and banks in Sydney closed. The national fertility rate fell and immigration was reduced to a trickle. The value of South Australia's exports nearly halved.
Drought and poor harvests from compounded the problems, with some families leaving for Western Australia. Only one year of deficit was recorded, but the price paid was retrenchments and lean public spending.
Wine and copper were the only industries not to suffer a downturn. Electric street lighting was introduced in and electric trams were transporting passengers in Crowley examined the reports of visitors in the early 20th century, noting that "many visitors to Adelaide admired the foresighted planning of its founders", as well as pondering the riches of the young city.
Its population grew, and it became the 3rd most populous metropolitan area in the country, after Sydney and Melbourne. Its prosperity was short-lived, with the return of droughts and the Great Depression of the s. It later returned to fortune under strong government leadership.
World War II brought industrial stimulus and diversification to Adelaide under the Playford Government, which advocated Adelaide as a safe place for manufacturing due to its less vulnerable location. The South Australian Government in this period built on former wartime manufacturing industries.
International manufacturers like General Motors Holden and Chrysler  made use of these factories around Adelaide, completing its transformation from an agricultural service centre to a 20th-century city.
The Dunstan Governments of the s saw something of an Adelaide 'cultural revival',[ citation needed ] establishing a wide array of social reforms. The city became a centre of the arts, building upon the biennial " Adelaide Festival of Arts " that commenced in Adelaide hosted the Formula One Australian Grand Prix between and on a street circuit in the city's east parklands; it moved to Melbourne in Adelaide's tallest building, built in , was originally known as the State Bank Building.
In it was renamed the Santos Building and in it was renamed Westpac House. Satellite image of Adelaide's metropolitan area. The Adelaide Hills is the green area to the right of the image. Much of Adelaide was bushland before British settlement, with some variation — sandhills, swamps and marshlands were prevalent around the coast. The loss of the sandhills to urban development had a particularly destructive effect on the coastline due to erosion. Much of the original vegetation has been cleared with what is left to be found in reserves such as the Cleland Conservation Park and Belair National Park.
A number of creeks and rivers flow through the Adelaide region. The largest are the Torrens and Onkaparinga catchments. Adelaide and its surrounding area is one of the most seismically active regions in Australia. On 1 March at 3: His plan, now known as Light's Vision, arranged Adelaide in a grid, with five squares in the Adelaide city centre and a ring of parks, known as the Adelaide Parklands , surrounding it.
Light's selection of the location for the city was initially unpopular with the early settlers, as well as South Australia's first governor, John Hindmarsh, due to its distance from the harbour at Port Adelaide, and the lack of fresh water there. The benefits of Light's design are numerous: Adelaide has had wide multi-lane roads from its beginning, an easily navigable cardinal direction grid layout and an expansive green ring around the city centre.
There are two sets of ring roads in Adelaide that have resulted from the original design. Suburban expansion has to some extent outgrown Light's original plan. Numerous former outlying villages and "country towns", as well as the satellite city of Elizabeth , have been enveloped by its suburban sprawl.
Expanding developments in the Adelaide Hills region led to the construction of the South Eastern Freeway to cope with growth, which has subsequently led to new developments and further improvements to that transport corridor. Similarly, the booming development in Adelaide's South led to the construction of the Southern Expressway.
New roads are not the only transport infrastructure developed to cope with the urban growth. King William Street, one of the widest main streets in an Australian capital city, viewed from Victoria Square. In the s, a Metropolitan Adelaide Transport Study Plan was proposed in order to cater for the future growth of the city.
The plan involved the construction of freeways, expressways and the upgrade of certain aspects of the public transport system. The then premier Steele Hall approved many parts of the plan and the government went as far as purchasing land for the project. The later Labor government elected under Don Dunstan shelved the plan, but allowed the purchased land to remain vacant, should the future need for freeways arise. In , the Liberal party won government and premier David Tonkin committed his government to selling off the land acquired for the MATS plan, ensuring that even when needs changed, the construction of most MATS-proposed freeways would be impractical.
Some parts of this land have been used for transport, e. A relative lack of suitable locally available timber for construction purposes led to the early development of a brick-making industry, as well as the use of stone, for houses and other buildings. After both of the World Wars, the use of red bricks was popular. In the s, cream bricks became popular, and in the s, deep red and brown bricks became popular. Since then, cement tiles and colourbond corrugated and other types of iron have also become popular.
Most roofs are pitched; flat roofs are not common. Up to the s, the majority of houses were of "double brick" construction on concrete footings, with timber floors laid on joists supported by "dwarf walls". Due to Adelaide's reactive soils particularly Keswick Clay, black earth and some red-brown earth soils  , since then houses have mainly been constructed of " brick veneer " over a timber frame and more recently, over a light steel frame on a concrete slab foundation.
Rainfall is unreliable, light and infrequent throughout summer. Frosts are occasional, with the most notable occurrences in July and July Hail is also common in winter.
Adelaide is a windy city—it experiences wind chill in winter, which makes the temperature seem colder than it actually is. Snowfall in the metropolitan area is extremely uncommon, although light and sporadic falls in the nearby hills and at Mount Lofty occur during winter. There are usually two to three days in summer where the temperature reaches The average sea temperature ranges from