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Important dates

  • 25 June 1854:  Port-de-France is born, being renamed Noumea on 2 June 1866.
  • 1856: Noumea’s inhabitants number 921, including 113 military personnel.
  • 1858: building of Noumea’s first church, Sainte-Clothilde, which was destroyed by fire in 1890.
  • 1875: Fort Constantine is demolished, to be replaced by the hospital.
  • 1876: the first petrol lamps light up Noumea’s streets.
  • 1879: Noumea becomes the capital of New Caledonia.  The Music Kiosk is built in Place des Cocotiers (Coconut Square) by the convicts.
  • 1880: Magenta Racecourse holds its first races.
  • 1887: the city uses gas lamps for the first time, supplied by the factory in Vallon du Gaz.
  • 1893: water, having been provided from the Yahoué River since 1877, is finally brought in by pipeline from Dumbéa.  Opening of the Protestant Temple on 18 June.
  • 1894: unveiling of the Céleste Fountain and on 14 June, consecration of the Saint Joseph Cathedral.
  • 1900: the first public transport, the Garrigou omnibus, appears on the streets.
  • 1902: the Bernheim Library is installed, thanks to a gift from Alsace miner, Lucien Bernheim.
  • 1908: the first paved roads. By 1929, they would all be paved.
  • 1909: after an initial experiment at Pointe Chaleix, a nickel ore smelter is opened at Doniambo, owned by the Société des Hauts Fourneaux.  This will become the SLN (The Nickel Society)…..
  • 1912: the first cars begin to appear in the streets. 
  • 1914: a railway links Noumea to Païta. .
  • 5 April 1932: the city glimmered with electric lights for the first time, for the arrival of the Biarritz, the first air link between France and Noumea.  Energy was provided by the Union Electrique Coloniale (Unelco – the Colonial Electric Company).
  • 1936: construction of the Ducos seawall, connecting the island to the city at Montravel.
  • 1938: 1,394 subscribers are the first to enjoy running water. 
  • 1942-1946:  the American presence transforms Noumea.  The GI’s, under General Patch, create new neighbourhoods, such as Motor Pool and Receiving, develop previously unused areas and drain and fill marshes.  They install the American Army headquarters known as the “Pentagon” at Anse Vata, (today the site of the Le Promenade complex).
  • 1953:  The generosity of parishioners enables the Eglise du Vœu (the Church of Vows)  to be built above Receiving and Motor Pool, to offer thanks to the Virgin for having saved New Caledonia from the Japanese forces during the Pacific war.  At that time, there were 12,000 inhabitants living in the city. 
  • 1958: the former municipal stables are demolished in order to build the Lycée Lapérouse (Lapérouse High School).    
  • End of the 1950’s: the « Cite Mélanésienne” (Melanesian housing estate) is built at Montravel.
  • 1964: the city introduces its first town planning.
  • 1966: the Social Housing Fund is granted tracts of land over from the municipality which, after draining and filling, will become the suburb of Rivière Salée.  A major development plan is implemented.  The work will last more than ten years, during which time the « western » slip road is also built.  A network of small blue buses, affectionately called « baby cars » service the city centre and its suburbs
  • The 1970’s: The nickel boom continues to attract people.  The Saint-Quentin and Magenta tower blocks rise out of the ground.
  • 1972: major work at the port begins, a seawall links Nou Island to the municipality of Noumea.  The newly-created Port Zone is divided into two: the Grande Rade (large harbour) and the Petit Rade (small harbour).
  • 1976: inauguration of the current Town Hall.  The former Town Hall will be turned into a museum … Noumea now has a population of nearly 57,000 inhabitants.
  • 1983: the Municipal Council decides to divide the city into 36 neighbourhoods (38 today).
  • April 1991: Now too small, the municipal Market is replaced by a new one at Baie de la Moselle.
  • 2013: during the previous decade, new suburbs have been built (panorama Sainte-Marie, Tina-sur-Mer, Tuband, etc).  Noumea’s population has now reached nearly 100,000 inhabitants.