Vegas has The Strip, Kolkata has Park Street

Meeting at the confluence of Free School, Camac Street, Russel Street, and Middleton Row lies Park Street - a place where the people of Kolkata come to get away from the crushing wheel of post modern life. This is a place where time slows and good food along with good music take to become the priority.
Park Street today; Image Source- GetBengal

Park Street today; Image Source- GetBengal

Park Street was the hub of the very short-lived jazz age in India. Jazz is a music form that is mostly identified with New Orleans and the roaring 20s. Kolkata experienced this underground movement around 50 years later with people like Carlton Kitto playing in Mocambo and other renowned pubs and restaurant along with legends like Louis Banks.

With any Golden Age comes its demise and the newly imposed Entertainment Tax forced restaurants and clubs to close the doors on seasoned and skilled musicians who would later go into Bollywood to mix techno songs - a place that does not offer them intellectual satisfaction.

However, Park Street got its name from the first Chief Justice of Calcutta Elijah Impey. He worked out an amazing deal with the then governor-general Warren Hastings to build a palatial house with ran from Middleton Row to Russel Street. This complex had trees, flowers, and beautiful deer parks. The rich foliage around the area led this street to be named “Park Street”.

After the 1690s, Britishers started to settle in Kolkata. To their amusement, they were plagues with dengue and cholera. From the damp winters of London to the sultry summers of Kolkata - the weather didn’t quite suit them. The life expectancy was abundantly low.

People were dying left, right, and center and nobody was willy to work for the Company. So they made a “Burial Ground Road” which is now Park Street. This same Park Street with its glamourous neon lights and its overflowing champagne was once home to four cemeteries.

Park Street is the central entertainment hub of Kolkata with numerous fine dining restaurants, pubs, clubs and bars. It spectacularly captivates the weekend joi-de-vivre of the Calcuttans. After a slogging from Monday to Friday. The humble corporate slave comes here to have a drink or two with some delicious continental food.

One of those cemeteries still exist to this day which is the infamous South Park Street Cemetery. The other ones were North Park Street Cemetery, Mission Cemetery and French Cemetery. You might ask what happened to the other three cemeteries?

Well, they are made into schools. North Park Cemetery is right now APJ School and Mission Cemetery is AG Church school. To this date, there is a little enclosure just near AG Church School, where not many set foot. If one takes the time to do some illegal snooping around, they would be greeted with one of the last remaining epitaphs of the North Park Street Cemeteries where eight members of a certain “Robertson Family” lie in eternal sleep.

It is indeed interesting to know that the lively street of Kolkata was once the haunt of gloomy and ghoulish corpses.


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