A City in the Making: Aspects of Calcutta's Early Growth

Paper Type: Book print paper | Size: 216 mm x 140 mm
All colour; 7 colour and 49 black and white photographs, 564 pages, Hardback
ISBN-10: 9385285289 | ISBN-13: 978-93-85285-28-8

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When Job Charnock landed at Sutanati in 1690 the place was no more than an ordinary Bengal village on the banks of the Hooghly. Yet, by the middle of the nineteenth century, it was being described as the second city of the British Empire. With the help of archival records, this volume plots the various stages of the journey on the part of the three villages of Sutanati, Kalikata and Gobindapur which collectively came to be called Calcutta (renamed Kolkata). The story is broken up into three sections the first of which deals with the unplanned growth of the place till the town fell to the forces led by the nawab, Shiraj-ud-Daula, in 1756. During this time the main effort on the part of the authorities was directed at cleaning up the place and setting up essential facilities such as a hospital, a jail, a mayor’s court, strengthening the banks of the river, etc. The second period, which extended till the end of the eighteenth century, saw the expansion of Calcutta southward and eastward which kept the authorities busy with issues such as compensation for acquired land, the formation of today’s Maidan, the building of the arterial Circular Road, the setting up of bazars, and improving the drainage system. The third period marked the advent of the town-planning era set in motion by Lord Wellesley. The volume takes the story to the point where the Lottery Committee was formed in 1817.

Ranabir Ray Choudhury
Ranabir Ray Choudhury

Ranabir Ray Choudhury has been a journalist with The Statesman and The Hindu group of newspapers since 1970 till 2010. His interest in the past of Kolkata has led him to publish three compilations since 1978 – Glimpses of Old Calcutta 1835-1850, Calcutta a Hundred Years Ago, 1880-1890 and Early Calcutta Advertisements 1875-1925 – and a full-fledged account of the Government Houses of Kolkata since the days of Job Charnock – The Lord Sahib’s House, Sites of Power: Government Houses of Calcutta 1690-1911. This is his fifth book.