Metropolitan Building (Kolkata)

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Metropolitan Building
(মেট্রোপলিটান বিল্ডিং)
Whiteways and Laidlaw Building Kolkata by Piyal Kundu.jpg
Metropolitan Building in Esplanade, Kolkata before the renovation.
Former names Whiteway Laidlaw department store
General information
Status Used as a residential and a commercial building.
Address 7, Chowringhee Road
Town or city Kolkata
Country India
Coordinates 22°33′49″N 88°21′06″E / 22.5637°N 88.3516°E / 22.5637; 88.3516Coordinates: 22°33′49″N 88°21′06″E / 22.5637°N 88.3516°E / 22.5637; 88.3516
Elevation 9.509 m
Current tenants Life Insurance Corporation of India & houses many offices & stores such as Big Bazaar & the Central Cottage Industry Showroom. The upper floors are occupied by innumerable tenants residing in box like quarters.
Construction started 1905
Owner Government of West Bengal

Metropolitan Building (Bengali: মেট্রোপলিটান বিল্ডিং) is the number 46.26 building on Chowringhee Road in Kolkata near Esplanade. Formerly known as the Whiteway Laidlaw department store, it was a famous department store in Calcutta during the British Rule in India. This neo-baroque emporium—with domes, a clock tower, and arched recessed windows—exemplifies fashionable shopping during the British Raj in British India. The building was built in 1905. Post Independence Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. assumed ownership, so people know it more commonly as Metropolitan Building.[1][2]

It is located near the Shaheed Minar and the Grand Hotel.


It is a large building recognisable by its corner tower with the dome raised high on a pavilion. Rustication in the ground floor and a semicircular arched arcade in the first floor. The facade is punctuated by a series of projected and pedimented bays with plain columns and Corinthian capitals. Repaired recently, the Metropolitan Building still stands as an important landmark overlooking the crowded Chowringhee.[3]

The building's clock tower seen at the end of the photo taken in Esplanade, Calcutta in 1945


In 1991, a fire ravaged the top floor of the majestic Metropolitan Building and hundreds of original negatives of Bourne and Shepherd, reputed to be the world’s oldest operational photography studio,[4] established in the late 19th century, perished in the fire.[5]


The building was restored by the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC). But it still houses a commercial complex.[6] The building was freshly repainted with white and golden paint and its exterior structure was also renovated while making extensive changes within.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ INTACH (Guide to Kolkata). INTACH. 2009. 
  2. ^ "Preserving Kolkata’s Heritage Buildings". Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  3. ^ Datta, Rangan. "Metropolitan Building, Esplanade, Calcutta | Flickr - Photo Sharing!". Flickr. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  4. ^ "Bourne & Shepherd (active 1863-)". National Portrait Gallery. Retrieved 31 December 2013. 
  5. ^ "1991 fire". 2011-02-24. Retrieved 2012-03-24. 
  6. ^ Ray, Saikat (16 September 2012). "History can mean big business too". Times of India (Kolkata). Retrieved 31 December 2013. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Metropolitan Building at Wikimedia Commons