Comparing current Dhaka with its past
...In late 1950s, the Adamjee group of Industries, which was one of the most significant companies in the country of that time, built an extremely modern air conditioned office-complex in Motijheel - Dilkusha area and named it Adamji Court Building. It was the first building in the city with a lift installed. The US government rented a floor in the building and housed their consular office.
Hotel Purbani, located at 1 Dilkusha Commercial Area, was build in 1964 and became the most prominent hotel of that time. S.A.Sobhan, the then Additional Chief Secretary of the government and a silent advisor of Awami League in the later years, initiated the venture. Shortly A Sattar, owner of a 7-up bottling factory, joined the project. Name of the hotel was given by Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman as owners were quite close to him. Elites of the city and foreigners found the hotel a good place to be. The buffet lunch at one of the restaurants of the hotel were offered at Rs. (Pakistani currency) 11. The Australian High Commission and French Embassy at that time were located on top floor of the hotel.
Italian made Vespa baby-taxis came to Dhaka in mid 1950s and affected the otherwise cleaner air of the city. During that time, going from Gulistan to Farmgate by bus took 12 paisa, by ricksha took between 50-65 paisa and by baby-taxi took 1 taka. The Gulistan area and nearby Jinnah Avenue became main stands for the baytaxis right after its insertion. In the 1960s, the Jinnah Avenue (now Bangabandhu Avenue) was the only four-lane road of the city, two going in each direction. It connects Baitul Mukarram on the northern side which is a prominent landmark of Dhaka, built by G.A.Madani when he was chairman of the Dhaka Improvement Trust. The original architectural design was changed subsequently.
At the northern end of Jinnah Avenue stands city’s first significant stadium. Besides the stadium, there is Purana Paltan Maidan where important meetings of political nature were held in the past. A lot of shops and display center were set up in this street in the 1950s and it soon became a happening place.
Gulistan is just across the Jinnah Avenue where insurance companies and newspapers had their offices. The whole area grew very fast during 1950 and through 1960. On western side of the Gulistan Building, there was a bakery shop named Rex where film actors, singers, journalists and trendy people used to hang around. The bakery otherwise was popular with its pastries and tea.
Motijheel is the major business and commercial hub of Dhaka city and has more offices and business institutions than any other part of the city. Since 1950s, it is the home to largest number of corporate headquarters of the country.
The name Motijheel; where jheel means lake, comes from a small pond within the Dilkusha Palace of Dhaka Nawab family. The area later was joined by D.I.T. Avenue and Jinnah Avenue. Up to 1960s, there stood an old Mughal cannon at the head of the D.I.T. Avenue; this cannon was captured by Mir Jumla in Assam during his expedition in 1661-62. Before 1832, it was placed in front of Bara Katra near Sawari Ghat.
D.I.T. building was constructed in the 1950s which had four tiers, with topmost tier consisting a tall square clock tower. It was modeled after certain British architecture in London. The then Prime Minister H.E. H. S. Suhrawardy, inaugurated the building. D.I.T. stands for Dhaka Improvement Trust and was responsible for planning and development of the city. It later became RAJUK. When Dhaka’s first TV station was set up, the studios were placed in this building.
** Pictures of the earlier times were collected from Facebook pages of 'DHAKA - 400 years History in Photographs' and 'Bangladesh Old Photo Archive'.