Saturday, December 23, 2006

Calcutta in 1947, pictures

I got a link to these photos from an email. I consider all of them treasures and fear that it will be lost in time. The descriptions of the photos are the original words from the photographer himself. I am putting up the pictures on Blogger so that remain forever

Howrah Bridge - Engineering Marvel

Calcutta boasts the third largest cantilever bridge in the world. Its real importance, however, lies in the fact that it serves as Calcutta's gateway to the west, being the city's only bridge spanning the Hooghly. Taking 7 years to build, it cost $10,000,000. It towers 310 feet as the city's highest structure, is 2,150 feet long with a center span of 1,500 feet. It was completed in 1942, opened in February, 1943.

Chowringhee Square

Calcutta's main thoroughfare, an amazing parade of fascinating sights and sounds. Every soldier who has trod its length retains memories of one of the most colorful and interesting streets in the world.

The Mohammddan mosque, Juma Masjid, is shown at left. This is actually one of the quiet moments when GI trucks, taxis, bicycles and other modes of transport can move with comparative freedom.


A bewildering mass of billboards at the corner of Harrison Street (Burra Bazar) and Strand Road. One of the oldest sections of Calcutta, at the foot of Howrah Bridge, it is a fine vantage point for photo-graphing the passing parade of oddly dressed natives and curious vehicles.

Calcutta's traffic is usually snarled. And the reasons are clearly shown. Shuffling coolies and pedestrians with little regard for their lives seem completely oblivious to the perils of automotive traffic.

This coconut market on Cornwallis street is a sample of the haphazard way in which many basars are operated. The popular pauses for refreshment is indulged by Indian in central foreground drinking coconut milk.

Sidewalk tonsorial parlor. India probably has a greater proportion of barbers than any nation, for in addition to the many salons which cater to the European and higher type Indian trade, these sidewalk shavers seem to ply their trade in every other block.


Nightlife in Calcutta

Nightfall in Calcutta stirs the imagination and curiosity as to what goes on down dimly-lit alleys often leads an occasional soldier into the out-of-bounds areas. If you don't know the way, five rupees will buy a trip to the few still existent brothels in one of the garies shown here. (Warning: MP's take a poor view).

Reading stuff

Corner bookstalls, specializing in lurid novels, sec treatises, are fascinationg spots for British and American soldiers alike. Typical titles, "The Escapades of Erotic Edna", "Kama Sutra, The Hindu Art of Love".

New Market

Probably the largest market in the East is the New Market. Convering several blocks in the downtown area, the 2,000 stalls offer most anything you could ask for, wartime shortages excepted. In addition to all the items appealing to the local and tourist trade, the market contains giant food departments.

Old Court House Street

This buffalo herd's movements seem to be guided by whim alone and are typical of the complete indifference to traffic control by man and animal alike. This is Old Court House street, one of Calcutta's busiest. In left background is Great Eastern Hotel, Calcutta's best, used by U.S. Officers as a billet.

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Dhandal said...

did u click these snaps? wonderful...particularly cos they r in black n white..

Unknown said...

Unfortunately, I did not click these snaps, 'cause I wasn't even born then...

Anonymous said...

Put some photos of Calcutta of the present time to compare.