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Although the site of Yangon (formerly Rangoon) emerged in very early times as a pilgrimage center and port along the trade routes of the Gulf of Bengal, it is really in the aftermath of the Annexation of Lower Burma under the British Indian authorities that the city was established as a modern city. A memorandum on the planning of the new city was submitted by Dr. William Montgomerie to the administration as early as September 1852. The document pointed out the potential of the site in terms of maritime trade and listed strict planning principles. A few months later, in January 1853, Major Fraser finalized a more detailed plan designed for a city of 36,000 people. With the plan quickly approved, the development of the city could begin. On what was now considered British Indian territory, allotment plans were drafted and publicized. Auctions at which private investors were invited followed and the revenues generated helped finance the construction of new streets and public infrastructure more generally. Illustrating his resolve to pursue the city’s development, Lord Dalhousie, Governor-General of British India, visited Rangoon in 1854. After Lord Dalhousie’s visit, work proceeded at a steady pace and by 1856 the city had a population of 46,000 inhabitants, outnumbering in just three years Fraser’s initial estimate. This massive population growth prompted British authorities to expand the city towards the west. To recall, even briefly, the first four years in the life of this British Rangoon is to portray the city as a boom town, a place of tremendous potential where all ambitions could be fulfilled.

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Created on 13 Mar 2019 | Last updated on 13 Mar 2019