Fifty years after the British annexed the Punjab and made Lahore its provincial capital, the city—once a prosperous Mughal center that had long since fallen into ruin—was transformed. British and Indian officials had designed a modern, architecturally distinct city center adjacent to the old walled city, administered under new methods of urban governance.
In Making Lahore Modern, William J. Glover investigates the traditions that shaped colonial Lahore. In particular, he focuses on the conviction that both British and Indian actors who implemented urbanization came to share: that the material fabric of the city could lead to social and moral improvement. This belief in the power of the physical environment to shape individual and collective sentiments, he argues, links the colonial history of Lahore to nineteenth-century urbanization around the world.
Glover highlights three aspects of Lahore’s history that show this process unfolding. First, he examines the concepts through which the British understood the Indian city and envisioned its transformation. Second, through a detailed study of new buildings and the adaptation of existing structures, he explores the role of planning, design, and reuse. Finally, he analyzes the changes in urban imagination as evidenced in Indian writings on the city in this period. Throughout, Glover emphasizes that colonial urbanism was not simply imposed; it was a collaborative project between Indian citizens and the British.
Offering an in-depth study of a single provincial city, Glover reveals that urban change in colonial India was not a monolithic process and establishes Lahore as a key site for understanding the genealogy of modern global urbanism.
William J. Glover is associate professor of architecture at the University of Michigan.