Luck in the rise and fall of cities

A narrow strip of water became a lucky break for Mumbai. Here is short post exploring the role of luck in the rise and fall of cities.

Hemant Kulkarni
1 min readDec 10, 2023
Photo by Hardik Joshi on Unsplash

The flourishing or decline of cities in the past was influenced by numerous factors, and predicting which city would become a major hub was challenging.

For instance, Mumbai became a major port city after the opening of the Suez Canal. Before the canal’s construction, European countries took a lengthy route around the southern tip of the African continent before heading north to India. This made southern cities more attractive for naval trade, leading to stronger trade relations for southern Indian empires with other countries. And these were the empires which expanded into South-east Asian regions.

However, in 1869, the Suez Canal opened, providing ships with direct access to the Arabian Sea. This allowed for easy navigation to Mumbai, shifting trade businesses to benefit from the shorter route to Europe. Consequently, Mumbai experienced explosive growth after 1869.

History is replete with examples of cities that were once capitals but now lie in ruin due to cultural shifts and numerous other reasons. Eg. Vijayanagara, Pataliputra, Dholavira, Mohenjo-daro.