Renamed Mahatma Gandhi Road, Esplanade Road, like most parts of South Bombay, is lined with heritage structures; Elphinstone College and the David Sassoon Library are amongst the prominent ones.
Established in 1856, Elphinstone College is one of the oldest of colleges of the University of Bombay. It played an important role in the spread of Western education in the city. During the British Raj, the college was amongst the most coveted, producing several luminaries like Bal Gangadhar Tilak. Pherozeshah Mehta, Jamshedji Tata, Homi K Bhabha and Dadabhai Naoroji. Inception classes of the University of Bombay were held here before being moved to the Fort campus.
The building was originally meant for the government central press; and although, the building is now a college, about half of the floor area is shared with the Maharashtra Archives Department. The building, constructed in the ‘Romanesque Transitional’ style, cost Rs 750,000 to build. The amount was generously donated by Sir Cowasjee Jehangir. Today, it is categorized as a Grade I heritage structure.
The well-known Jehangir Art Gallery is across the street as also the entrance to the Prince of Wales Museum (now Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya). The David Sassoon Library was the brainchild of Albert Sassoon, son of the famous Baghdadi Jewish philanthropist, David Sassoon. It was constructed by architects J Campbell and G E Gosling for the Scott McClelland and Company. It cost Rs 125,000 to build, of which David Sassoon donated Rs 60.000; the government paid the remaining amount. Completed In 1870, the building was built using yellow Malad stone, much like the abutting Elphinstone College, Army and Navy Buildings and Watson’s Hotel. A white stone bust of David Sassoon rests above entrance portico.