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Travel to Thailand: Bangkok: Photo 25

world pictures Thailand: Bangkok

As late as 1930, Bangkok was a compact place.  The city had long outgrown its original outer moat, which corresponded to the modern Khlong Ong Ang. Anew boundary was formed in 1854 with the opening of the Khlong Krung Kasem, to which the railway station is tangent. By 1930 the city had spread east to this new limit but also south along the riverfront, where Rama IV had ordered the creation of the first road in the city to penetrate beyond Rattanakosin: this was Charoen Krung ("prosper the city"), long known simply as New Road--and crowded ever since.  It led to Sathorn, where most Europeans lived.  The scene shown here, however, is of a Bangkok that has grown since 1930 to the east, on land that was rice paddies in 1930 but today is thoroughly embedded in a metropolis that extends miles farther eastward.  The newest thing in the picture is the "skytrain" over Thanon Rama I, now darkened by this product of German engineers. To the left and occupying most of the frame is Siam Square, a very popular shopping district built in the late 1960s on land leased from Chulalongkorn University, off to the left of the picture.  In the distance is the massive block of the Mahboonkrong Center, Bangkok's first multi-storey shopping center--and no place for anyone with a tendency to claustrophobia.  Pedicabs are long gone--banned in 1959 as "unsightly."

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