2. Mumbai – Spatial growth and evolution under colonization – dramatic urbanization

1. Kinetic City Now

2.Special growth and evolution under colonization – dramatic urbanization

3. Urban Spectacles? Urban Horror. Whose fault to blame?

4. Cleaning up the mess and attempts that failed

5. More plans and conclusion

 

comparing the before and after landfill of Mumbai (green is the new land)
comparing the before and after landfill of Mumbai (green is the new land)
comparing the before and after landfill of Mumbai (before)
comparing the before and after landfill of Mumbai (before)

From Bombay to Mumbai, from seven to one; political landscape.

Lands and countries would change physically as time passes, but Mumbai had undergone major dramatic change that seven islands became one. This new land may as well be called political landscape.

With the city rising as a hub of colonial trade and industry, its physical shape changed. Lands and seas were colonized to accommodate a growing urban society. The British celebrated the then called Bombay city’s rise as a modern city by dressing the new public buildings in Gothic Revival architecture, and made their statement.

The first idea of reclaiming land in Bombay belonged to the Portugese, but the process only began in earnest under the East India Company. Under the governance of William Hornby, the British constructed an embankment on Worli Creek, named the Hornby Vellard, this protected the low-lying areas of the island from flooding during high tide and opened the way for subsequent reclamations. By 1838 these reclamations these filling of breaches and construction of bunds and roadways had joined the seven islet into one single island. The transformation of the city is remarkable; by 1872 reclamations had added four million square yards to the city, increasing the island’s area from eighteen to twenty-two square miles.

Much of this transformation also depended on Bartle Frere’s reign from 1862 to 1867. His reign was only for a few short years but he was an energetic imperialist and urban planner whose ambitious plans for Bombay’s development had long-lasting effects. He demolished the rampart walls because the recognized the fact that the city has outgrown its origins as a garrison town and the fortifications no longer serves anyone other than bred disease. The walls were leveled and trenches filled, the Fort sent the land values soaring and encouraged further reclamations. Simultaneously the government built new roads, widened old ones and completed the construction of overbridges.

This dramatic transformation almost parallels itself to Baron Hausmann’s redevelopment of Paris and the construction of Ringstrasse in Vienna. Yes like in Europe the construction program create the new spatial complex of the modern city of Bombay. However there was one major difference. Bombay was a colonial city. Such colonial architecture, or change in infrastructure such as the filled breaches built embankments, reclaimed land, laid roadways and tramways, constructed mills and urban institutions, physical space that can be manipulated at will, means the repression of the existing meanings of particular cultural significance that people attached to specific spaces. Industrialization built on the backs of cheap labor and appallingly inadequate housing and public infrastructure facilities went hand in hand with grand building projects.

 

A little looking back to home

Up to this point of the research I am finding this part of the Mumbai history a little familiar, in fact very close to home. Born and raised and still here in Hong Kong, I believe in understand the past and present of Hong Kong in a personal level. Hong Kong was also a British Colony however, perhaps due to the time difference it never became a Gothic City like Bombay did. In many terms I tend to believe the British Colonization has raised Hong Kong to become a Metropolis, that part of history has given us a major lift in terms of economy. There was resistance against the British and there were scars left by them monumented by the Colonial architecture in Hong Kong, but our identity could not have been clearer without the rule of the British. I dare say their stay here did more good than bad to us. Mumbai however, benefited just as much as they lost to the colonization.

population growth
population growth
From seven islets to one island 1708-1772
From seven islets to one island 1708-1772
Segregation between the british and the natives
Segregation between the british and the natives
First rails and first cotton mills
First rails and first cotton mills
The plague and suburbia development
The plague and suburbia development
1973 to today
1973 to today

 

Seven Islands
Seven Islands

1 Comment on “2. Mumbai – Spatial growth and evolution under colonization – dramatic urbanization

  1. I like your comparison of British colonization between Mumbai and Hong Kong. Both city has been colonized by Britain for quite a period of time but the result nowadays is quite different. I think the reason is not only because of the colonization policy, but also due to how the colonized people react to the colonization government.
    Say in Hong Kong, during the British colonization period, British still give enough freedom to the Hong Kong people and preserved the traditional history and culture of Hong Kong. Therefore the people do not create large opposition to the colonization government. Also, the government help Hong Kong in rapid economic and urban development, the result is magnificant today, turning Hong Kong into the world financial center. However on the other hand, in the colonization history of Mumbai, the British government seems has given a more aggressive control to the culture and urbanization of the city, in result the people start to have more rejection to the colonized government.

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