Some fine urban design

24 May, 2013
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Elphinstone Circle (1872)

Façades: Elphinstone Circle (1872)
Fort (presently Horniman Circle).

Elphinstone Circle was the first colonial urban design scheme in Bombay. Previously any design plans for the south of the city had to consider and work around the presence of the Fort settlement; which was a military rather than modern form. Once the Fort walls were demolished in 1864, planners had an open city centre to play with.

Today the Circle hosts the French fashion houses of Hermes and Christian Louboutin, high on design, as on price.

The photograph is shot by Dj Murty on Kodak 400 ISO film.

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Railway kitsch and Bombay posers

20 May, 2013
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Facade: BB&CI Railway Administrative Offices
(1899) Churchgate (presently Western Railway Head Office).

The celebration of the 160th anniversary of the Indian Railways has occasioned some wonderful examples of railway kitsch. At the Bombay, Baroda & Central India (BB&CI) Railway Administrative Offices, green spotlights compliment the signs in red and neon and the locomotive, all recent additions to the structure and setting.

The green lights, though close and tangible, could well be the one(s) Gatsby believed in, the orgastic future that makes us ‘run faster, stretch out our arms farther’.

A host of Bombaywallas pose by the locomotive, some as precariously as they would be placed on a daily commute (see our gallery above).

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Ham sandwiches and the Jinnahs

16 May, 2013
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Town Hall (1833)

Staircases: Town Hall (1833)
Fort (presently Asiatic Society of Mumbai)

Ham sandwiches in hand 23 year old Ruttie Jinnah ran down the flight of 30 steps of the Town Hall and drove off, after her husband Muhammad Ali Jinnah chided her for endangering his chances of wooing the Muslim electorate in 1923.

The photograph is shot by Dj Murty on Kodak 400 ISO film.

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Flora please, not Frere

13 May, 2013
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Flora Fountain

Fountains: Flora Fountain (1869)
Junction of Hornby Road, Esplanade Road and Churchgate Street, Fort (presently Hutatma Chowk).

Flora Fountain is a defining landmark in the city so much so that it has become an address in itself, which any Bombaywalla will easily recognise.

Though originally named Frere Fountain, after governor Sir Henry Bartle Frere (1862-67), the architect of the new Fort district, the Fountain has always been referred to by its adopted name. Flora is the Roman goddess of flowers and the season of spring; a minor deity in Roman mythology, a major madame of Bombay.

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Signage: Eros (1938)

10 May, 2013
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Eros

Eros (1938)
Queen’s Road, Churchgate (presently Maharshi Karve Road).

Art Deco cinemas like Eros were the beaming symbols of Bombay’s modernity. The experience of arriving in an automobile for a night at the pictures, being seated in Eros’ dark blue Rexine seats, displaced older forms of public entertainment like the theatre, where early audiences were subject to battle scenes with uncooperative horses on stage and ill equipped actors.

At Eros, audiences in 1939, gazed at the suave Ronald Colman, whose ‘love making was as dangerous as his sword play’.

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