Bangkok History

After Ayutthaya was burned by the Burmese army in 1767, the Thai army established Thonburi, a community of Bangkok as the new capital.  Bangkok was instituted as the new capital in 1782 by king Chakri, also known by his dynastic name Rama I.  After asking Chinese merchants to move to the Sampeng area, Rama I used the vacated land to build the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew).   Another thing he did was to give Bangkok a royal name, one that happened to include the title Krung Thep ("City of Angels"), which was what Ayutthaya had been called.

After being expelled from Thailand in 1688, foreigners started sprinkling into Bangkok.  Initially, there were a few merchants and missionaries in the 1830's, and by 1860 many European countries and North America had trade treaties with Bangkok.

The King and I, a movie based on King Mongkut, is still banned in Thailand today since many feel it is not an accurate portrayal of him.  King Mongkut (1851-1868), and later on his son King Chulalongkorn (1868-1910) is responsible for the modernization that has taken place in Thailand.  The city's first paved street was built under his rule and in 1863, his son sustained it by building more city roads, constructing a rail line to go north as well as adding a tram line.  

With the turn of the 20th century, Bangkok began growing even more, with former rural market areas turning into residential areas.  In an effort to promote growth and development in Thonburi, Memorial Bridge was constructed in 1932 to connect it to Bangkok.  Other efforts at modernization included filling in canals to make more land area and roadways.  

The Vietnam War really brought about growth in Thailand with all the money that streamed in and improvements were made to existing problems, such as widening the road to the Don Muang airport.   World War II and Thailand's "alliance" with Japan caused problems particularly toward the end of the war with Bangkok being bombed by the Allies.

Increased population and modernization from the 1960s on have caused some problems in Bangkok.  The housing situation is deplorable as there are over 8 million people in Bangkok and a direct result of the population and modernization explosion is a problem with severe traffic congestion.  Some may feel that the loss of many cultural sections of Bangkok is a high price to pay in the name of modernization, especially since these areas with their markets and inhabitants have disappeared to make way for shopping centers.  Bangkok is now most other modern cities in the world.

 


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