Ahmedabad/ Old and New Urban Fabrics after the Construction of Railway (1864)

The construction of the Bombay, Baroda and Central India Railway (BB&CI) under colonial period (1856-1919) marked the opening up of the introverted Ahmedabad to other parts of India, enabling trade and population flow into and out of the city. This has led to the fall of the old Ahmedabad and its associated city mode, as well as the rise of the new Ahmedabad: the reliance on textile industry as the city’s main economy has faded out, as other Indian cities  like Bombay has out competed Ahmedabad; and there is a tendency for the city to expand to account for the increased influx of people into the border. 

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Map of Expansion of Ahmedabad © 1411-1900, Dinesh Mehta
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Map of Expansion of Ahmedabad © 1411-1900, Dinesh Mehta

Ahmedabad was no longer a city enclosed to itself, but a city of constant expansion. The way how the BB&CI Railway cuts through the city fabrics has marked the segregation of new and old city fabrics. With the new insertion of the railway, more focuses were put on the new fabrics immediately next to the spine of the railway in search of new economic and social opportunities. New towns and developments were planned around the periphery, and also to the west of the Sabarmati River. As a result the original walled city was left unattended, gradually transformed into slum areas. One saying about the insertion of BB&CI Railway is that it brings forth economic boost and positive city transformation to Ahmedabad, but on the other face, it can be said that  the insertion has divided the city from an originally cohesive walled state into a division of new and old fabrics. A separate sense of space has developed, characterized by the notorious walled area which was once the better part of the city.

Map of CC&BI Railway © 1900s, Ahmedabad City Development Plan
Map of CC&BI Railway cutting through Ahmedabad © 1900s, Ahmedabad City Development Plan

The uneven and rapid city transformation urged for a compact, squeezed and high density urban form. Dwelling units was cramped together with maze-like circulatory routes. City grid can barely be seen, but an intense demand for space, high-efficiency urban planning scheme.

Urban form in Ahmedabad © 1970, The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal
Urban form in Ahmedabad © 1970, The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal

Reference:

A. Rajagopal, Urban Segregation and the Special Political Zone in Ahmedabad:An Emerging Paradigm for Religio-Political Violence, The South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal, 2011

R.P. Misra, Millions Cities of India Volume I, Sustainable Development Foundation, 1998

1 Comment on “Ahmedabad/ Old and New Urban Fabrics after the Construction of Railway (1864)

  1. Building new infrastructure was a common move for colonial governments. It would be clearer to limit the time frame of 5-10 years, perhaps the immediate window between the railway was conceived and constructed to look at the immediate effects of the event, such as the economic and demographics you mentioned.

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