About Yangon

The population of Yangon was now about 30,000 according to Symes. Exports frorm Yangon included lac, isingglass, vegetable oil, ivory, cotton, petroleum and famous teak. Teak was especially valued because a vessel built with teak would outlast four ships built of oak. the abundance of teak made ship-construction cheap and the twenty-foot tide in the Yangon River made docks unnecessary for ships could be beached without danger. The Myanmar carpenters were good carftsmen and were hard-working. They were regarded as better shipwrights than men of other nationalities, More than a hundred ships were built in the thirty years after 1775.Most of these ships were sold in foreign ports.

Apart from construction, the shipyards did a busy trade in refitting ships. The industry became so important that it alarmed the British in India who felt that steps should be taken to curb its power, which they did. The East India Company's government sent a combined force of nearly eleven thousand men with forty pieces of artillery. The transports carrying this force were escorted by HMS Liffey, HMS Larne, HMS Sophia, the sloop Slaney, several cruisers, twenty gun brigs, twenty tow-boats each armed with an eighteen-pounder gun and the steamship Diana. On 10 May 1824 the fleet stood into the River and anchored within the bar. The expedition landed on the 12th The invading force was distributed in the town and along to two roads leading to the Pagoda, along the road-side and on the Shwedagon platform.

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In November, the great Myanmar general Maha Bandoola arrived in the neighbourhood of Yangon. He made several attempts to evict the invading force stationed on the Pagoda but was frustrated by the guns of the enemy fleet. On the 15th, the Myanmar army was driven from its stronghold at Kokine. The Myanmar army retreated towards Danubyu where an enemy shell killed Maha Bandoola. That was virtually the end of the war. The Treaty of Yandabo was concluded on 24th February 1826.Yangon remained in occupation till 8th December. The invading force enshipped on 9 December with a detachment left behind to receive the final instalment of the indemnity. Yangon was returned to the Myowun by General Campbell.

Serious damage was done by the troops who pillaged the pagodas on the Shwedagon platform and around the town. A single company stationed on the Pagoda obtained in one night a large number of gold and silver images which was sold to an officer who resold them for a big profit in Calcutta. Most seriously, General Cambell ordered the piercing of a tunnel into the bowel of the Shwedagon in the hope of finding treasure. He was disappointed. Singu Min's great bell was seized, but when they tried to transport it to India the Bell sank to the bottom of the River. Later, Myanmar people retrieved it by attaching it to a ship at low water, when the tide came in, the ship lifted the bell.

In , King Thayawady decided that King Alaungpaya's town was too vulnerable to attack from the river and that a new town should be built further inland, about a mile and a quarter from the river. A mud wall sixteen feet high and eight broad was to surround the town and a ditch to run alongside it. The Pagoda was worked into the defences of the town which was about three-quarters of a mile away. Thus the Shwedagon formed the north-east corner of the town. The east border of the town ran along Shwedagon Pagoda Road ridge. The southern boundary was slightly south of the road where the National Health Laboratory now stands. The west road ran roughly along Myoma Kyaung Lan, while the north face cut across Pyay Road and People's Park. Water was supplied by thirty wells. The town was named Aung Myei Aung Hnin, "Victory Soil, Victorious Ejector". Endawya Pagoda in Myoma Kyaung lan remains from the visit of Ling Thayawady. Though King Thayawady's town was occupied for residence, the old Yangon continued to be populous. Commerce and industry and all connected with trade and the port were still situated there. A crane was placed at the new King's Wharf at Lanmadaw. So King Alaungpaya's Yangon continued to be the business town. In the end,King Alaungpaya's town existed for only ten years because by the war of 1852, Lower Myanmar was annexed by the British and a new Yangon was planned. A British force of 6000 men with thirty-five pieces of artillery, escorted by fifteen warships appeared at the mouth of Yangon River on the 1st April 1852. Posts and stackade guarding the River were attacked and taken on the 5th.On the 11th the ships crossed the bar and took up position opposite the old town. The next day, Theinbyu, "the White House Stackade" was taken. Meanwhile, a certain Mr.C.M.Crisp, a foreigner residing in Yangon, who had previously sent information about the defence of Yangon, had told Capital Latter that it would be better to direct the attack at the eastern entrance of the Pagoda which was very inadequately defended. A detachment then rushed the east entrance and gained the Pagoda platform. Myanmar forces were compelled to retire by the southern and western gates of the town. The British lost sixteen killed and one hundred and thirty-three wounded. Two majors also died. The British annexed lower Myanmar by a proclamation dated 20th December 1852. On the 21st the proclamation was read in Yangon.

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Dr. William Momtgomery who had come along as Superintendent Surgeon with the British troops proposed a town with a checkered pattern of streets based on a road which ran along the Strand. Lt. Fraser of the Bengal Engineers, who had been assigned the design task, largely followed Dr. Montgomery's plan. Fraser's detailed proposal dealt with the problem of flooding at high tide. However, his plan had to be modified to provide for a larger city. Three kinds of roads were incorporated into the design. Roads running west to east were broad roads 160 feet wide. Roads running south consisted of two small 30 feet wide roads, one medium-sized road 50 feet wide, two more 35 feet wide roads and then one broad 100 feet wide road. This order was repeated from west to east. The smaller roads were numbered, while the medium and broad roads were given names, some for eminent persons of that time.

As laid down, there was the 100 feet wide Lanmadaw Road, followed by 17th and 18th street, which were small roads, then the medium 58 feet road Sint-O-Dan Road, next the smaller 19th and 20th streets, followed by 100 feet wide Latter Road, followed again by the two numbered small roads 21th and 22th streets.

The roads running paralle west to east were the Strand Road, Merchant Road, Dalhousie Road (Maha Bandoola), Fraser Road, (Anawrahta) and Montgomery/ Commissioner Road (Bogyoke Aung San) then a medium 50 feet wide road known as Bank Road.

Yangon, which had become the model city in South-east Asia, suffered great damage during the Second World War. Its buildings, roads and drainage systems were destroyed. Multicoloured insurgents added to the problem after Independence in 1948. This led to a massive influx of refugees into the city where enough housing was not available to accommodate them. People simply settled where they pleased. The city was now covered with small shacks of bamboo and thatch causing serious fire hazard. Drainage was blocked with refuse. Traffic on motor roads and sidewalks was impeded by huts and shops. People squatted on public land, gardens and parks. Disease became rampant and the mortality rate increased .Fires often broke out, destroying thousands of homes in the squatter slums.

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The population was 46000 in 1856; in 1860 it rose to 60,000 To accommodate the population, the original town was extended west by the three 100 feet roads, three 50 feet roads and twenty-two 30 feet roads. The extension to the east was by three 50 feet roads and twenty-two 30 feet roads. The extension to the east was by three 30 feet roads. In 1872, the population had risen to nearly 100,000. In 1900, it was over 200,000. The suburbs of Kyimyindaing, Ahlone, Pazundaung, Yegyaw, Myaynigone, Kamayut were incroporated into the town and Voyle Road (U Wisara Road) was added as another northward road to the existing Prome Road (Pyay Lan).

Meanwhile, British officers and soldiers fallen in the war were buried in the north-east corner of the Shwedagon Pagoda platform. They were exhumed and buried in the Cantonment Cemetery after repeated appeals, only in January 1929.the western stairs were opened to the public in March, 1930, after 77 years in British military custody.

In1869, presiding monk U Pya and elders responsible for the upkeep of the Pagoda found the 100-year old King Hsinbyushin htee crowing the Pagoda had rusted and was beginning to crumble. Since the people of occupied Lower Myanmar could not by themselves put up a new htee, permission was sought and received from the British authorities to appeal to King Mindon who granted assent.

When the htee was ready for crowning, the British began to have serious doubts over the political implication of a Myanmar King embellishing the Shwedagon because the act could signify the King's supremacy over the area. The British Chief Commissioner of British Burma and not by the Myanmar king. King Mindon agreed. The htee should be placed on the Pagoda by the subjects of British Burma and not by the Myanmar king. King Mindon agreed. The htee was sent to Yangon and was disembarked on 24 October 1871. The vane surmounting the htee was placed in position on 26 November and the ceremony was completed without the trouble the British feared, though people from all parts of the country had flocked to Yangon. "The town was never more quiet as regards crime than during this great influx of people", reported the Chief Commission. When the Caretaker Government assumed power in 1958,a Municipal commissioner was appointed with the mission to clean up the City. The task was to educate the public, to lay down necessary controls, to dredge and clear blocked drainage, to rid sidewalks of encroaching shops, to repair old equipment and install new machinery. the mission was undertaken with the slogan; "Wash the City with sweat."

People living as squatters on public land and in trespassing huts, and those living on roadsides were transferred with necessary help to the new towns of Thaketa, South and North Okkalapa. At first, people were reluctant to move, but when they found themselves living in their own houses in clean quarters with water and electricity, good roads and health and educational facilities they realiz ed how well they had come up in life from their previous squalid habitats.

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