MARINE Drive completes 100 years Friday. Oblivious to the passersby, a simple etching on a stone lamp post near Chowpatty has kept time. The inscription simply reads, “Kennedy Sea-Face commenced 18th December, 1915. Completed 1920.”
It is this heritage inscription that the Marine Drive Citizens’ Association took to the General Post Master early this year, to get a postcard designed to mark the historic date. On Friday, the association plans to launch the postcard in an informal gathering planned in one of the Art Deco buildings lining the sea front.
The residents felt the city’s most iconic curve deserved a nostalgia marker. “We thought of ways to commemorate the day. The idea of a postcard worked for all,” says Vinay Somani, vice-president of the association. Somani, who has lived all his life in the Marine Drive area, says the style of architecture — Art Deco — gives a “sense of space even as one’s privacy is protected”. The most “impressive array of Art Deco buildings in Bombay exists along the western edge of the Ova; Maidan and on Marine Drive”, reads Bombay, the Cities Within, an informative book by Sharda Dwivedi and Rahul Mehrotra on the Marine Drive’s buildings.
While the shoreline limits were built by 1920, as the plaque reads, the buildings across the stretch came up only in the late 1930s — with the buildings adhering to the then Development Directorate from the reclaimed Back Bay. While the postcard will mark the elements of the Marine Drive — the glittering lamp posts, the Art Deco buildings and the moving life through a watermark image of the boulevard — it is the stamp that is going to be more distinct.
“We chose to go with the tetrapods,” says Somani. The tetrapods made their appearance along the seashore in the 1960s to arrest erosion of the shoreline. The association plans to begin the Marine Drive centenary celebrations from January, with suggestions including lighting up one Art Deco building every week or going for landmark decorations, and involving more street participation, like plays and music shows etc.
The residents said talks were on with agencies and some innovative ideas were expected.