Lahore is the capital of the province of Punjab andthe second largest city in the country with a present population of nearly 5.0million. It is located on the eastbank of river Ravi close to the border with India.
The greater metropolitan area ofLahore covers nearly 170,000 hectares on a flatalluvial plan at 750 feet above sealevel (Map 3.1).3.
4.2 Historical Urban Developments.Lahore is an ancient city, with a history datingback to the fourth or fifthcentury. Starting from a fort on the bank of theriver, it turned into a fortified cityunder the Afghans and the Turks in the eleventh andtwelfth centuries. The majorcontribution to the city was made by the Mogulsduring their reign starting from 1526AD onward.
Later Persian invasions by Nadir Shah andAhmed Shah Abdali in theeighteen and nineteen century destroyed the city,which was later followed by half acentury of warfare between the Sikh tribes.Lahore was occupied by the British in 1849 and thiscontinued till 1947 whenthe British left the subcontinent. During this timethe fortified walls were demolished,the surrounding moat was filled and turned into agreen belt. This has served toseparate the Walled City from the settlements whichhad developed around it and arenot too different from the Old City in density,urban features and characters. TheWalled City occupies an area of about one squaremile and has a population of260,000. It is a highly congested area with anaverage density of 1100 people perhectare as compared to 160 people per hectare in therest of the metropolis. Housesare densely packed into tiny plots of an averagesize of 40 sq.
yards each, rising tothree or four storeys. More than half of thesedwellings are occupied by a single household, a quarter contain two households,while the remaining have three or more.The major physical contributions to the city by theBritish included, thedevelopment of, the Cantonment (military station)and the civil secretariat(administrative), both connected by a thoroughfare.
Major institutions were alsoestablished along this route such as the High Court,Assembly Chambers, the PunjabUniversity and Civil Lines (government officersresidences for the Britishadministrative personnel) all of these are presenteven today. Commercial developmenttook place along this route which served the needsof the colonial and the upperclass.The area between the Old Walled City and theBritish developments was filledwith indigenous settlements resembling the characterof old city but on a smaller andlooser scale. Later British residential areas werealso fringed by residential areasoccupied by local elites. These imitated thecolonial style with a local blend. The mostprominent example of which is “ModelTown”, a low density residential settlementbuilt on Ebenzer Howard’s garden city concept. Thiswas nearly 10 kilometres southof the British administrative centre and buüt as aself contained settlement, but hasnow been surrounded by the rapid growth of the city.
Since independence in 1947 most of the expansion hasbeen along the southernaxis where a number of large and low-density upperand middle income settlementshave been laid in a leap-frogging pattern, leavingintervening areas empty. These werethen often filled by unapproved development ofvarying standards and incomepatterns. Large areas of unauthorized low-incomeresidential and mixed use developments have also grown along the northern andeastern axis, within theprotection of the river bund (flood protectionembankment).
Modernizationand Marginalization in the Colonial EraThisquality was again affected by another empire, which had yet to mark its presenceonthelandscape. Not long after Sikh rule ended, the British established dominionover thesubcontinent.Contrary to the previous experiences where armies and rulers would eitherdestroyorbeautify the city, the colonial approach to cities was different. As apractice, it operated “at theinterfaceof knowledge and material culture, its operations were highly dispersed,contradictoryandheterogeneous in historical and geographical terms” (Legg, 2007: 41). TheBritish sought tobringnew modes of planning and being for the physical and social milieu, in theirvision inspiredbywestern and “rational” notions of urban space.
New colonial buildings were all built in the CivilLines (See Map B below). As withother cities in the subcontinent, the Civil Lineswas analogous to British suburbs, “characterizedby low-density, horizontal, single-storydevelopment, and broad tree lined roads which gaveaccess to a system of large compounds, eachcontaining a roughly centrally sited bungalow”(Qadeer, 1983: 180). This model is important tounderstand how in the colonial world order,alternate town planning schemes were put in place.In the traditional order of things, the samepiece of land was multi-functional, but now land usewas segregated and confined to specificuse, whether residential, commercial, official, ormilitary. Areas and sites were standardized indesign, housing blocks were clustered by socialrank, and transportation modes were all orderedunder a new system (Qadeer, 1983: 180). Map C belowillustrates the notions of rectangular,clearly demarcated areas. This begets the questionwhy did the British opt to from scratch,instead of applying new urban planning strategies tothe incumbent historic core.