In the 1980s, an Asian investment boom brought multinational corporations flooding into Bangkok, creating the bustling hyper-modern city that pulsates with tourists and businessmen alike today. With a population larger than New York City, Bangkok is now far and away the most densely populated city in Thailand -- nearly a third of the country's 65 million citizens live in the metro region. But it wasn’t always like this: The city started out as a somewhat sleepy trading post, along the Chao Prya river. It remained an outpost until the 18th century, when what is now known as Bangkok became the country’s capital city. Here’s a look back at the metropolis 100 years ago, when it was experiencing its first population explosion and serving as neutral territory between the French and British colonial empires -- a time when most people traveled through the city by rickshaw, and the city’s skyline was still broken only by Buddhist temples.
Above, this 1900 floating dock was erected for the royal rite of passage called "Teaching the Prince How to Swim," marking the prince's passage into puberty. During the ritual, the prince descended into the river while Brahmin priests chanted.
Curator: Steve Van Beek