The discovery and archaeological study of Chandraketugarh, 35 kilometres (22 mi) north of Kolkata, provide evidence that the region in which the city stands has been inhabited for over two millennia. Kolkata's recorded history began in 1690 with the arrival of the English East India Company, which was consolidating its trade business in Bengal. Job Charnock, an administrator who worked for the Company, is traditionally credited as the founder of the city; In response to a public petition, the Calcutta High Court ruled in 2003 that the city does not have a founder. The area occupied by the present-day city encompassed three villages: Kalikata, Gobindapur, and Sutanuti. Kalikata was a fishing village; Sutanuti was a riverside weavers' village. They were part of an estate belonging to the Mughal emperor; the jagirdari (a land grant bestowed by a king on his noblemen) taxation rights to the villages were held by the Sabarna Roy Choudhury family of landowners, or zamindars. These rights were transferred to the East India Company in 1698.
In 1712, the British completed the construction of Fort William, located on the east bank of the Hooghly River to protect their trading factory. Facing frequent skirmishes with French forces, the British began to upgrade their fortifications in 1756. The Nawab of Bengal, Siraj ud-Daulah, condemned the militarization and tax evasion by the company. His warning went unheeded, and the Nawab attacked; he captured Fort William which led to the killings of several East India company officials in the Black Hole of Calcutta.
A force of Company soldiers (sepoys) and British troops led by Robert Clive recaptured the city the following year. Per the 1765 Treaty of Allahabad following thebattle of Buxar, East India company was appointed imperial tax collector of the Mughal emperor in the province of Bengal, Bihar and Orissa, while Mughal-appointed Nawabs continued to rule the province. Declared a presidency city, Calcutta became the headquarters of the East India Company by 1772. In 1793, ruling power of the Nawabs were abolished and East India company took complete control of the city and the province. Beginning in 1864, the hill station of Shimla served as administrative capital during summers. In the early 19th century, the marshes surrounding the city were drained; the government area was laid out along the banks of the Hooghly River. Richard Wellesley, Governor-General of East India company held territories between 1797 and 1805, was largely responsible for the development of the city and its public architecture. Throughout the late 18th and 19th century, the city was a centre of the East India Company's opium trade.
By the 1850s, Calcutta had two areas: White Town, which was primarily British and centred on Chowringhee and Dalhousie Square; and Black Town, mainly Indian and centered on North Calcutta. The city underwent rapid industrial growth starting in the early 1850s, especially in the textile and jute industries; this encouraged British companies to massively invest in infrastructure projects, which included telegraph connections and Howrah railway station. The coalescence of British and Indian culture resulted in the emergence of a new babu class of urbane Indians, whose members were often bureaucrats, professionals, newspaper readers, and Anglophiles; they usually belonged to upper-caste Hindu communities. In the 19th century, the Bengal Renaissance brought about an increased sociocultural sophistication among city denizens. In 1883, Calcutta was host to the first national conference of the Indian National Association, the first avowed nationalist organisation in India. Gradually, Calcutta became a centre for revolutionary organisations associated with the Indian independence movement. The temporary 1905 partition of Bengal along communal lines resulted in widespread public agitation and a boycott of British goods by the Swadeshi movement. These activities, along with the administratively disadvantageous location of Calcutta on the eastern fringes of India, prompted the British to move the capital to New Delhi in 1911.
Rashtraguru Surendranath Banerjee organized a national conference at 1883. This was the first political party in India in the nineteenth century. In 1905, Calcutta protested the partition of division of Bengal and boycotted all the British Goods. Gradually Calcutta became an important hub for Indian Independence Movement, especially the revolutionary parties. The city and its port were bombed several times by the Japanese between 1942 and 1944, during World War II. Coinciding with the war, millions starved to death during theBengal famine of 1943 due to a combination of military, administrative, and natural factors. Demands for the creation of a Muslim stateled in 1946 to an episode of communal violence that killed over 4,000. The partition of India led to further clashes and a demographic shift—many Muslims left for East Pakistan, while hundreds of thousands of Hindus fled into the city.
|Bengali billboards on Harrison Street. Calcutta was the largest commercial center in British India.|
During the 1960s and 1970s, severe power shortages, strikes, and a violent Marxist–Maoist movement by groups known as the Naxalitesdamaged much of the city's infrastructure, resulting in economic stagnation. The Bangladesh Liberation War of 1971 led to a massive influx of thousands of refugees, many of them penniless, that strained Kolkata's infrastructure. During the mid-1980s, Mumbai (then called Bombay) overtook Kolkata as India's most populous city. In 1985, Rajiv Gandhi dubbed Kolkata a "dying city" in light of its socio-political woes. After independence in the year of 1951 and 1956 the Corporation act was amended. Lastly in 1980 West Bengal Government amended this act. In 1984 a revised new law was effected. In the period 1977–2011, West Bengal was governed from Kolkata by the Left Front, which was dominated by the Communist Party of India (CPM). It was the world's longest-serving democratically elected communist government; Kolkata was a key base for Indian communism. The city's economic recovery gathered momentum after the 1990s, when India began to institute pro-market reforms. Since 2000, the information technology (IT) services sector has revitalised Kolkata's stagnant economy. The city is also experiencing marked growth in its manufacturing base.