Bangkok/ Ratchadamnoen Avenue (1899-1903)

Krung Thep © 1910, showing roads and shophouse development, Compiled from Naegnoi et al. 1991
Krung Thep © 1910, showing roads and shophouse development, Compiled from Naegnoi et al. 1991
A View of the Inner Section of Ratchadamnoen Avenue, National Archives of Thailand
A View of the Inner Section of Ratchadamnoen Avenue, National Archives of Thailand
A View of the Outer Section of Ratchadamnoen Avenue, National Archives of Thailand
A View of the Outer Section of Ratchadamnoen Avenue, National Archives of Thailand
Ratchadamnoen Avenue © 1905 Courtesy National Archives of Thailand.
Ratchadamnoen Avenue © 1905 Courtesy National Archives of Thailand.

Ratchadamnoen Avenue was constructed from 1899 to 1903. Unlike other roads shown in the first map which were built to substitute for the original water ways and finally stimulated the commercial development around, the avenue was specially commissioned by King Rama V to “host the spectacles of the royalty”.  The avenue has three sections and changes its direction twice, linking the Dusit Palace and the Grand Palace. Although the proclamation of the building of the avenue states that it was for the economic development of the area, the avenue in most of the time was left empty because it was away from the community.  Instead, the avenue acts as a linkage between the old and new palaces and holds the royal parades on occasions. As the avenue was inspired by the European avenues, its construction speaks the dualist character of the urban development of Bangkok. On one hand, the monarch as the agent of the reform was welcoming the western modernization to capitalize the city, while on the other hand, the western geometry was also used to redouble the perception of Bangkok as a royal city. The public image of the Thai kingship was in this case “refashioned” by connecting the monarch to the urban infrastructure.

 

Reference:

Navapan, Nattika. 2014. “Absolute monarchy and the development of Bangkok’s urban spaces”. Planning Perspectives. 29 (1): 1-24.

Askew, Marc. 2002. Bangkok, place, practice and representation. London: Routledge.

1 Comment on “Bangkok/ Ratchadamnoen Avenue (1899-1903)

  1. The King tried to reform Bangkok by introducing Western knowledge of city planning. Why did the King move the Palace and had the new avenue connecting both Palaces? How was the monarch and political power connected to the physical planning of the city? What does “westernisation” mean to Bangkok at that time?

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