Monday, July 5, 2010
Public Buildings, Bombay.--Photographer: Unknown Medium: Photographic print Date: 1880
Photograph of the High Court, Rajabai Tower and University library in Bombay (Mumbai), part of the Earl of Jersey collection taken by an unknown photographer in the 1880s. The capital of Maharashtra on the west coast of India, Bombay was originally a group of fishing villages. By the 14th century Bombay was controlled by the Gujarat Sultanate who ceded it to the Portuguese in the 16th century. In 1661 it passed to the English as part of the dowry brought to Charles II by the Portuguese princess Catherine of Braganza. In the 17th century, the British built up fortifications around the original Portuguese settlement of the area overlooking the harbour. In the 1760s the fortifications were enhanced as the British were engaged in war with France in both Europe and India. By the 19th century the British had established control and in 1864 the fort walls were torn down and the area was converted into the central district of Bombay city. The removal of the ramparts of the fort opened up the city to new developments in architecture, and in the second half of the 19th century accelerated building activity was fuelled by its booming maritime trade. The High Court, pictured on the right, is on the border of what was once the walled fort of Bombay. The Rajabai Clock Tower to its left stands 260 feet high and is positioned above the library. The University Library and Rajabai Tower were designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and were completed in 1878 in a French Gothic style.