The City Charter (Chapter 121 of the Acts of 1821) established the form of government as a Mayor; a Board of Aldermen, consisting of eight elected at large; and a Common Council, of forty-eight elected by wards; to be called when conjoined, "the City Council.” The Mayor and Aldermen were vested with the administration of the police, and executive power of the corporation generally, with specific enumerated powers. All other powers belonging to the corporation were vested in the Mayor, Aldermen and Common Council exercised by concurrent vote.
Powers related to the administration of the Police were transferred to the Board of Police Commissioners by Chapter 244 of the Acts of 1878. Chapter 266 of the Acts of 1885, an act to amend the charter of the City of Boston, transferred to the Mayor the power to appoint, subject to the approval of the Board of Aldermen, all officers and boards elected by the City Council or Board of Aldermen, and all offices that may be established in the future. All executive powers vested in the Board of Aldermen were transferred to the Mayor to be exercised through the several officers and boards of the City in their respective departments, under the general supervision and control of the Mayor.
Chapter 486 of the Acts of 1909 abolished the City Council and both branches thereof. The act established a City Council consisting of nine members elected at large. The City Council retained the power to approve ordinances and loan orders presented by the Mayor and the budget. All heads of departments and municipal boards, excluding the school committee and those appointed by law by the governor, would be appointed by the mayor without confirmation by the City Council.
Chapter 479 of the Acts of 1924 provided for the election of 22 City Councilors, one from each ward beginning with the biennial election in 1925. Chapter 356 of the Acts of 1951 provided for the election of 9 City Councilors at large.
Chapter 190 of the Acts of 1982 (Tregor Bill) made major changes to the financial operations of the City and to the budgetary powers of the Mayor and City Council. Chapter 605 of the Acts of 1982 provided for a City Council of thirteen members, one each from nine districts and three at large, effective with the preliminary election in September of 1983.