At the beginning of the nineteenth century most English visitors to Calcutta recorded positive impressions. Calcutta acquired a reputation for its fine buildings; it was called the "city of palaces." In the second half of the nineteenth century, however, the city's image suffered a discernible shift. Rudyard Kipling's sinister verse stuck indelibly--in popular imagination Calcutta became if not the "city of dreadful nights" then at least a city without a future. These impressions, whether positive or negative, are particularly important because of their use as evidence by those writing the history of the city and the British Raj. The image-making gains significance particularly because this mode of portraying the city continues to present times, and has profoundly influenced the way insiders (Calcuttans) and outsiders (Indians as well as foreigners) see the city's problems and prospects. The inherited image of nineteenth-century Calcutta is one of a British colonial city divided into a black and white town; a city built on a swamp, and plagued by an unflattering climate, by politics, disease and disorder.