Chennai in the 19th century – Vintage Pictures

Scribble and Scrawl

By Somali K Chakrabarti

A city with a curious blend of tradition and modernity, Chennai has a rich historical legacy.

Formerly known as Madras, Chennai was a leading urban location and naval base, at the time of the British rule. Madras derives its name from Madrasapattnam, a fishing village located on the Coromandel Coast, where the British East India Company had first built a trading post in 1639, and followed it up with the construction of Fort St. George.

At that time, the weaving of Cotton fabrics was a local industry and the English invited
the weavers and native merchants to settle near the Fort. Businesses flourished on the crowded streets of the province known as George Town.

Here are a few pictures from the yore.

Outskirts of Madras, ca 1851

Outskirts of Madras, 1851

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