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KolKatta 1947 Old Photos




 





  
             
            
            
            
      
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Friday, July 27, 2007


Here are some of the old pictures of Kolkotta city (Previously knows as Calcutta,West Bengal,East India.)

The decriptions of the photos are the original words from the photographer himself.

The South Asia Section of the Van Pelt Library, University of Pennsylvania recently acquired from a bookdealer a photograph album consisting of 60 photographs of Calcutta taken most likely between 1945-1946.

The photographer, Mr. Claude Waddell, also provided the interesting glosses accompanying each photograph. Several attested copies of this work has emerged including one with a 'title page' held by the Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, Louisiana.

Mr. Waddell was a military photographer. Many of his captions sound like annotations that would be found in a typical military magazine.The album begins with several general long shots of Calcutta and ends with a picture of A mysterydhobi-s (washer men) washing clothes. The text accompanying the last photograph also sounds as if the author intended to finish with that picture of one of the "great mysteries of India.".

The annotations have been included because of their intrinsic interest not only to the photographs but to a 'typical' American impression of India at this time.

I have included below a few recent titles published on Calcutta which the reader may be interested in consulting and comparing with this collection of photographs. The call numbers are to the volumes held by the Van Pelt Library.

Howrah Bridge - Engineering Marvel

Howrah Bridge - Engineering Marvel

Calcutta boasts the third largest cantielver bridge in the world. Its real importance, however, lies in the fact that it serves as Calcutta's gateway to the wese, 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

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

The Mohammddan mosque, Juma Masjid

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.

Billboards

Billboards

A bewildering mass of billboards at the corner of Harrison Street (Burra Bazar) and Strand Road. One of the oldest secions 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


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

This coconut market



This cocoanut market on Cornwallis stret is a sample of the haphazard way in which many basars are opperated. The popular pauses for refresment is indulged by Indian in central foreground drinking cocoanut milk.

Sidewalk tonsorial parlor.



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.

ShoeMakers



Nightlife In Calcutta



Nightfall in Calcutta stirs the imagination and curiosity as to waht 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.

Waiting for the trains



An Indian family sweat out a train. Cooking vessels, clothes and beggin are surrounded by this group which is distinguished by the presence of one of India's wandering holy men, (at right with painted brow).

The mark of Snack



A group of GI's take a close look at the snake-wallah's hooded cobra. Both the snake and his master are good specimens. The fangs, of course, have been removed so the reptile can strike at will, scaring no one.

Snake Charmer


This weird-looking snake charmer is doing his best to coax a balcony audience to toss down enough baksheesh to get his cobra and mongoose in the mood to stage a fight to the finish. Actually the combatants always seem a bit bored with the act and after a few fierce

snorts and lunges, decide it is better to live.

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.
Young mothers



India has thousands of child brides. The unfortunate young woman shown here feeding the infant from the giant coconut in foreground has been seen on Calcutta's streets day after day with he child. Her misery is more than typical thousands of India's unfortunates.

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