The following two bibliography items diverge from an objective lens of analyses of Thai-nationalism driven transformation of Bangkok to a more subjective perspective of how Bangkok would impress on visitors to the city.
Bangkok by William Warren
“In 1856 a group of Western merchants proposed that a trading community be established for them some distance from the city, near the present-day Phra Khanong, with a canal leading to the area. Klong Hua Lampong was accordingly dug and the excavated soil piled up along its north bank to make a road. The merchants, however, then refused to move on the grounds that it was too far from Bangkok. New Road was built in 1861, using earth from a canal dug to link Bang Rak and Hua Lampong canals; it ran parallel to the river for a considerable distance and soon became the principal centre of farang trade.” (Warren 2002)
The expansion and growth of a city was often met with an inertia of the existing residences, a reluctance of being pushed onto the periphery of and away from the daily happenings in the city. The outward push must be encouraged by a corresponding upgrading of infrastructure, e.g. a better transportation link or vast improvements of sanitary levels. The dirt and filth of the narrow lanes of Bangkok would have to give way with a much more cohesive planning of road and bridge construction program. The latter would also be able to facilitate the emergence of carriageways, the inevitable progress that emblazoned modernity and forwardness.
Old Bangkok by Michael Smithies
“Every few rods, a canal or ditch is to be crossed; and a log, or plank or two, without a handrail, is generally the only bridge; those of the principal thoroughfares are better, but none are good or neat. Of the numerous canals, not one is walled up or planked, except sometimes to secure a Wat. Most of them are left bare at half-tide, presenting a loathsome slime, and filling the air with stench, besides being useless half of the time.” (Malcom 1838)
For a city crossed by numerous canals, bridges were essential to link up the roads and carriageways. At the start of Bangkok’s growth, there had been little efforts done by the authorities to improve or repair the existing bridges in the city. The majority of them, built in course materials of wood, were in a despairing state and falling apart. It was not until the late 17th century that the authorities in Bangkok began to take the matter of bridge construction seriously. Sponsored by the Royal Family and wealthy Chinese noblemen, a draft of Italian engineers were employed to design elegant bridges at the key canal crossings in Bangkok. A collection of 17 bridges in total, termed as the Chalerm Bridges, marked the first efforts of Bangkok to develop a full-fledged carriageway system.
WARREN, William. (2002) Bangkok. London: Reaktion Books Ltd.
SMITHIES, Michael. (2003) Old Bangkok. Images of Asia. 2nd Ed. New York: Oxford University Press.