Bangkok 1946 - 1996
About 10,000 yearsago the place where Bangkok is situated was evidently below the surface of the Gulf of Siam. According to an engineering survey,
traces of coastline was found as far as Changwat Uttaradit. As times passed by, alluvial deposits, left by the Chao Phraya River,
gradually made the seashore recede fowards the south and also formed a vast and fertile land known as Chao Phraya Plain.
1. Prior to the Rattanakosin Period.
When Ayutthaya was established as the capital City of Siam in 1350, Bangkok was just a small community on the bank of the Chao Phraya River which
meandered through the Central Plain into the Gulf of Siam. Canals were cut along the river course for shortening the distance travelled from the Gulf of Siam to
Ayutthaya. A major shortcut was a cnal dug in the reign of King Chairachathirat (1534-1546). By the King's command, the canal was cut to connect the Chao Phraya River
at the point which is the mouth of Bangkok Noi Canal nowadays to another part which, in present days, is the mouth of Bangkok Yai Canal. This shortcut has eventually
become part of the Chao Phraya River and, at its western bend, a town named "Thonburi Simahasamut" was founded as the border town of the Kingdom of Ayutthaya.
As written in Ayutthaya chronicles and contemporary records of foreigners; the town was fortified with walls and two big citadels, eastern Bangkok citadel and western
Bangkok citadel ob each bank of the river. The two fortresses were built in the reign of King Narai the Great in European style on Constance Phaulcon's advice.
Between these two citadels there were chain cables stretched across the Chao Phraya River against naval attacks. In the reign of King Phetracha, the eastern Bangkok
citadel was demolished and the western one was renamed "Wichaiyen Citadel". In the Thonburi Period, the town was established as the capital city by King Taksin the Great.
In accordance with strategic planning, Thonburi was strengthened with defensive walls along both banks of the Chao Phraya River. Moreover, the river running right through
the city was favorable avenue in time of war. Wichaiyen Citadel within the palace compound was renamed by King Taksin as Wichaiprasit citadel"
which, at present, is within the precincts of Headquarters of the Royal Thai Navy. In the Thonburi period, areas in western side which were a long way off the palace were
abundant in fruit-trees while on the eastern side of the Chao Phraya River were situated communities of aliens who had been mostly captured in war and taken to Thailand.
2. The Rattanakosin Period.
Bangkok was founded in 1782 as the capital city of the Kingdom of Siam. The gradual development of this capital city can be devided into three phases as follows:-
2.1 Early Bangkok (King Rama I - King Rama III)
King Rama I (1782 - 1810), the founder of the Chakri Dynasty, established a new capital city on the eastern side of the Chao Phraya River by the following reasons:-
- Strategically, its cape-like land enclosed by the river on three sides with a vast plain on the east was considered a good defence against the enemy.
- Geographically, the western bank was faster eroded by the swift and strong currents of the river than the eastern bank.
- With respect to city development, flanked by temples on both sides and densely populated, Thonburi was difficult to expand. Moreover, a vast expanse of rice-fields on the eastern bank
was more favourable to city development than orchard areas full of ditches on the far west of Thonburi.
Prior to 1782, Bangkok on the eastern bank could be divided into two parts. The first one was areas within a city moat and defensive wall, comprising Wat Pho
(Wat Phra Chetuphon Wimonmangkhalaram Ratchaworamahawihan) abd Wat Salak (Wat Mahatath Yuwarat Rangsarit Ratchaworamahawihan) both of which were ancient
temples of Ayutthaya period. Chines community in the area where the Grand Palace is situated and Vietnamese
at Tha Tian were also included in the first part. The other one was residential and agricultural areas outside the city wall.
Onfounding a new capital on the eastern bank in 1782, King Rama I graciously allocated an area of land by the river on the southern
part of Bangkok which is known today as "Sompheng" for rebuilding the Chinese community. The Vietnamese also moved from Tha Tian to resettle at Ban Mo and Phahurat outside the city wall.
The Grand Palace was then constructed in the area which used to be the Chinese community. The new capital city was named "Krung Rattanakosin" or commonly called "Bangkok".
2.2 Westernization (King Rama IV - King Rama VII)
2.3 Under the Influence of New Technology (King Rama VIII - the Present King)