George Town, Chennai
|• Body||Chennai Corporation|
|Time zone||IST (UTC+5:30)|
|Lok Sabha constituency||Chennai Central|
|Civic agency||Chennai Corporation|
George Town is a historical neighbourhood of Fort Saint George in Chennai (formerly Madras), India. Also known as Black Town during the colonial period, the settlement was formed after the English constructed the fort and was the first settlement of the city of Madras, begun soon after the completion of the fort. The name of this area 'Black Town' was renamed as George Town in 1911 in honor of King George V when he was crowned as the Emperor of India. The name is still in use officially unlike other names which have been changed in the city being reminiscent of colonial past. This is where the modern city of Madras began its expansion in the 1640s.
Being the first settlement for natives around the Fort St. George, this area became base for development and construction activities as the city grew meeting the needs of people for their livelihood and rulers' administrative comforts. With the construction of one of India's major port, the region became an important naval base for the British. High court buildings and first light house tower with architectural beauty came up in an area where an Old Hindu Temple existed. This temple of Sri Chennakesava perumal and Chennamalleswara swamy was demolished and later shifted to the present place near Mint Street on Nethaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road which is popular amongst Hindus as Pattanam Koil.
- 1 History
- 2 Geography
- 3 Demographics
- 4 Roads and streets
- 5 Buildings and landmarks
- 6 Transportation
- 7 Education
- 8 Developments
- 9 Political awareness
- 10 Gallery
- 11 References
- 12 External links
In 1639, when Francis Day was looking for somewhere to build a fortified warehouse for the English East India Company, he soon acquired the land where in 1640 he built the compound named Fort St George. Soon after it was built, a township began to grow up outside it for the natives catering to the needs of the Europeans inside, and this became known as the Black Town.
By the early 18th century, with a growing population and commercial activities, there was congestion in Black Town, resulting in dispersion of some of the population to neighbouring areas. In 1733, the weaving community started to settle down in Chintadripet and Collepetta near Tiruvottiyur, since abundant open space was available for weaving. The community of washermen in the Mint area then moved towards the west, forming the present Washermanpet. Potters from this area moved outside the Fort on the north side and formed a new colony named Kosapet. With the construction of a bridge in 1710 to connect Egmore, people started moving towards the present Moore Market area.
When the French occupied Madras in 1746 and returned it to the English in 1749 in exchange for Quebec by the Treaty of Aix-la-Chapelle, the English flattened a part of Black Town in order to have a clear field for fire in the event of a future attack. In 1773, the English erected 13 pillars along the flattened area of the Black Town and banned construction in any form between the pillars and the fort which would otherwise block the view of possible invaders. Soon a new township, known as the new Black Town, came up beyond these pillars and the old Black Town gave way to the Madras High Court. A thoroughfare was formed along the stretch between the pillars and the high court which later became the China Bazaar Road. The only surviving one of the 13 pillars is being maintained in the compound of the Parry's building.
George Town is located along the shores of the Bay of Bengal, marking the beginning of Northern Chennai. The neighbourhood appears as a trapezium-shaped area from the sky bordered on its four sides by four roads. The western side is bordered by the Wall Tax Road and the Buckingham Canal. The south side is bordered by the North Fort Road marking the beginning of the arterial Poonamallee High Road. The northern side is bordered by Basin Bridge Road and Old Jail Road. The eastern side is bordered by the Rajaji Salai and Chennai Port. All the four sides are additionally bordered by railway lines of the Chennai Beach—Chengalpattu and Chennai Central—Chennai Beach sections. The neighbourhood is criss-crossed by parallelly laid streets running along north–south and east–west directions. Regions within the neighbourhood include Parry's Corner, Esplanade, Edapalaiyam, Sowcarpet, Elephant Gate, Mannady, Seethakadhi Nagar, Thiruvalluvar Nagar, Seven Wells, Trevelyan Basin, Peddanaickenpet, Kondithope, Asirvadhapuram, Muthiyala Pettai, Pookkadai (Flower Bazaar), Perumal Koil Garden, Badhri Garden, Rattan Bazaar, Krishnappa Naicken Agraharam, Chengankadai, Kachaleswarar Garden, and Broadway.
The region, being on the coast, had many sand ridges. During the 16th century, the level of the sea rose and inundated lands within the settlements. When the sea withdrew, it left behind several lagoons and ridges. The lagoons took some time to become filled in and the sandy ridges became places of safety where new temples and settlements were established. Two of the ridges were prominent—one between Broadway and the beach with a height of about 12 feet running roughly along Thambuchetty Street and the other one along Mint Street. From First Line Beach, the land slowly rose to the ridge and then fell to a valley along the present-day Broadway, where a drainage channel ran. Again it rose to the second ridge in Mint Street and descended gradually to a valley along the present-day Buckingham Canal. The Mint Street ridge continued along Tiruvottiyur High Road.
Some portraits displayed in the Fort Museum housed in the Fort shows tides of the sea almost very close to the Fort. River Coovam flowing little south of the Fort separates the neighbourhood from the rest of the city. The present day Prakasam Road (formerly known as Broadway) was originally a part of the river's watercourse. However, after the river completely dried up, this looked very broad through bushes and became to be known as Broadway. It is also said that there existed several tanks and ponds in the locality that gradually disappeared due to human encroachments. This can be noted in the names of some of the localities within the neighbourhood such as Sanikulam and Krishnankulam (Kulam in Tamil means tank or pond).
Residents of George Town in earlier days were mainly Telugus with sizable population of Tamils. In the core area, streets are named after Telugu people like Govindappa Naick, Angappa Naick, Adiyappa Naick, Narayana Mudali, Kasi Chetty, Rasappa Chetty, Varada Muthiappan, Thatha Muthiappan, Kondi Chetty, Linghi Chetty, Thambu Chetty, and so forth. A major part of trade and business was in the hands of Telugus. Apart from local Indians, others from rest of the country and also from foreign destinations who had trade and business links with the British 'East India Company' were living in this area. Men who were doing business in corals lived together in coral merchants street (பவழக்கார தெரு) sill exists and people from Armenia (A former state of Russia) doing business with the English were living in Armenian Street (அரண்மனைக்காரர் தெரு)-still exists. A church called Armenian Church was also constructed in the same area for them. As the Town was developing manifold, people from all over India settled in lakhs doing business in all fields, especially from North India, to mention specifically Rajasthan, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. The area where North Indians live together is called Sowcarpet.
Roads and streets
The main roads are Netaji Subash Chandra Bose Road (popularly known as China Bazaar Road), Rajaji Salai (formerly First Line Beach road) and Wall Tax Road. The streets are generally small and narrow with several lanes branching out of them. The longest street is Mint street which starts near Central Railway Station making way across the city for about 4 km towards north and ends near Vallalar Nagar.The name Mint street is because a Mint existed during British Days at the end of this street. Now the building houses Central Printing Press of Government of Tamil Nadu. This is considered one of few Longest Streets in the World. Several Government Offices both State and Central Governments and also Andaman & Nicobar Island Government's administrative offices of Shipping and Tourism Departments are on Rajaji Salai. The very attractive Burma bazaar noted for selling electronic goods and other items at cheaper rates once wholly run by Burma refugees is also on this Road. Residential houses could be seen in streets and lanes which are not in the core area in all residential localities.
Streets and Specialities
|Mannadi Street||Textiles, Imported goods, Eateries|
|Moore Street||Cereals & Pulses, Hotels, and Lodges.|
|Angappa Naicken Street||Masjid, Textile, Eateries.|
|Burma Bazaar||Grey market for Electronic goods, Cameras, Luggage, Perfumes & Accessories.|
|Linghi Chetty Street||Steel Hardware, Electric Motors & Pumpsets.|
|Thambu Chetty Street||Hardwares, Ceramic tiles & Sanitaryware.|
|Sembudoss Street||Steel sheets & Rods|
|Broadway||Cycles & Optical goods|
|Govindappa Naicken Street||Electrical goods|
|Nainiappa Naicken Street||Chemicals & Surgical instruments|
|Coral Merchant Street||Transport&shipping offices|
Buildings and landmarks
This area has many heritage and modern buildings on Rajaji salai & Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Road. Heritage buildings are High Court Buildings, Old Light house Tower and Law college building at Parrys corner and GPO building,Reserve Bank of India Building on Rajaji salai. Other modern buildings are Parry's Dare house, State Bank of Mysore Building, New Collectorate Office Building(Singaravelar Maligai), Kuralagam, BSNL Office Buildings,etc.,Raja Annamalai Mandram is a big hall where indoor meetings, cultural activities and dramas are held/performed. In addition there are lot of buildings owned by business community and Government.Many lodges and hotels are available to suit anyone for comfortable stay and food. Hotels/Eating places serve all types of food of any region.
George Town is well connected to the rest of the city. The neighbourhood has a bus terminus at Esplanade (Broadway Bus Stand) near Parry's Corner. There are two suburban railway stations in this area, namely, Chennai Beach and Chennai Fort. Apart from these, many other important railway stations are located circumferentially around the neighbourhood, namely, Chennai Central, Chennai Park and Park Town, all located in the southwest side, Basin Bridge Junction at the western side, and Royapuram railway station at the northern side.
The intercity and interstate express bus terminus was originally functioned at the Broadway terminus near Madras High Court in an area covering about 1.5 acres. With the increasing transportation need, the terminus was shifted to a new premises covering 36.5 acres at Koyambedu in 2002 constructed at a cost of 1,030 million.
Colleges and universities
George Town is home various government-run colleges and institutions. Dr. Ambedkar Law College, initially known as Madras Law College, was established in 1891. The medical college of the Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital was established in 1938 although the hospital was established by the turn of the 19th century. The Government Dental College and Hospital was established in 1953. Bharathi Women's College is located in the northern side of the neighbourhood.
Primary and secondary schools
It has many premier schools which includes St. Mary's Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School and apart from that other schools like St. Columban's Anglo-Indian Higher Secondary School and others include: Ramiah Girls High School, MEASI Matriculation Higher Secondary School, Muthialpet Girls School, Bishop Corrie Higher Secondary School, and St. Francis Xavier and Dominic Savio School.
Although George Town is the origin of the modern city of Chennai and remained the chief commercial hub of the city till the early 20th century, the city's central business district gradually moved towards the south since the mid-20th century, presently lying at the Gemini Circle on Anna Salai. This resulted in the whole of the northern region of the city being qualified as neglected backward region. However, some of the community-specific areas of George Town, such as Sowcarpet where the prosperous Marwari community resides, still remains an important commercial hub of the city.
Political awareness among citizens of George town is very high. Almost all leaders of National and State political parties used to hold street meetings contacting people and propagating their aims and principles. Great leaders like C.N.Annadurai, K.Kamaraj, C.Rajagopalachary,E.V.K.Ramaswamy Naicker,M.P.Sivagnanam(Ma.Po.Si) Andhra leaders like T.Prakasam and also Mahatma Gandhi,Annie Besant and many others did not miss this part of the city. With huge immigrant population settled here, not only local and state politics but also politics of all other states of the country and even foreign nations are well known here. All political parties make it a point to be in good books of the citizens.
Location in context
|Basin Bridge||Chennai Port|
|Esplanade / Park Town||High Court / Fort St George||Parrys Corner|
- Muthiah, S. (1 January 2012). "Madras miscellany: A forgotten name-change". The Hindu (Chennai: The Hindu). Retrieved 28 Apr 2012.
- "Structure of Chennai". Chapter 1. CMDA. Retrieved 24 Feb 2013.
- "Chennai High: Where history beckons". The Times of India (Chennai: The Times Group). 27 August 2010. Retrieved 19 Jan 2013.
- "1751 A.D. to 1800 A.D.". History of Chennai. ChennaiBest.com. Retrieved 20 Jan 2013.
- "கலக்கப் போகுது பிராட்வே பஸ் நிலையம்". Dinamalar (Chennai: Dinamalar). 22 July 2012.
- "Jayalalithaa inaugurates new bus terminus in Chennai". The Hindu Business Line (Chennai: The Hindu). 19 November 2002. Retrieved 16 Oct 2011.
- "Chennai Mofussil Bus Terminal (CMBT)". CMDA. Retrieved 16 Oct 2011.
- "Broadway bus stand to get facelift". The Hindu (Chennai: The Hindu). 9 January 2013. Retrieved 9 Jan 2013.
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