Robert Stephens' Bombay Imagined: An Illustrated History of the Unbuilt City
Beginning in 1670, Bombay Imagined: An Illustrated History of the Unbuilt City tells the story of 200 unrealised urban visions — aspirations of an evolved metropolis boasting everything from humane housing and expanded parks to sanitation systems and more. Ideas that never saw the light of the day are richly illustrated with archival drawings, contemporary speculations and artistic overlays, illuminating long-lost futures from the city’s never-before-seen past.
Bombay Imagined is a testimony to the audacious dreams of city-lovers, a chronicle of untold narratives across centuries and an insight into the tides that have shaped present-day Mumbai.
Since his move to Mumbai in 2007, author Robert Stephens has cultivated a passion for rare and second-hand books with a focus on the city. What began as a meandering journey through archival texts to quench an innate curiosity transformed in 2014 when he opened the Professional Papers on Indian Engineering, published in 1869. Sandwiched between countless projects from the 19th century, Arthur Crawford's grand (albeit unrealised) plan for a 400-acre park at Mahalaxmi transcended the mundane aspirations of his contemporaries, despite being relegated to the pages of history for more than 150 years. The unexpected discovery ignited a seven-year-long exploration, leading Robert to scour nearly five dozen archives, libraries and studios around the world in search of radical ideas for Mumbai that never came to fruition.