In the nineteenth century the native Bengalis of Calcutta had a profound influence on how the city came to be represented. British attitudes towards the Bengalis permeated ways in which the city was experienced and imagined by its British rulers and thus framed the discussions and representations of the city itself. These British impressions of nineteenth century Calcutta are particularly important because they became evidence' in the writing of the history of Calcutta and the Raj. The image-making assumes significance because this trend of portraying Calcutta continues to present times, and has deeply influenced the way insiders (Calcuttans) and outsiders (Indians as well as foreigners) see the city and its problems and prospects. To understand Calcutta, one must include that which is seen and unseen, that which is both permanent and passing. In examining the historical evidence of Calcutta much has been neglected, thus generating a static historical account, leaving too many questions unanswered.