In the 17th century, Bombay was a group of seven islands under Portuguese control.
It was handed over to the British in 1661, after the Portuguese princess, Catherine of Braganza, married Britain’s King Charles II. Bombay soon became the base and principal western port of the British East India Company.
In the 19th century, Bombay became a chief port for trade in cotton and opium and thus attracted communities of traders and merchants. Migrant workers were drawn to the city to the newly established sugar and textile mills. Bombay was at the junction head of two major railways. This made it easy for people to migrate to the city.
The influx of people soon created a crisis of housing space and water supply. While the richer Parsi, Muslim and uppercaste traders and industrialists of Bombay lived in sprawling spacious bungalows. The majority of the working population lived in the thickly populated chawls of Bombay.
Life in the city was often authentically captured by the Bombay Film Industry. Authorities tried to solve the space crunch caused by large scale migration by reclaiming land from the sea.
The earliest project began in seventeen eighty four, when William Hornby, the Bombay governor, approved the building of the great sea wall which prevented the flooding of the low-lying areas of Bombay. A good example of this reclamation activity is the famous Marine Drive.