Mumbai has many heritage structures and historical precincts most of which are located in the south of Mumbai. Mumbai had 591 heritage structures registered as of 2012. These include buildings, archaeological sites, colonial, industrial, domestic architectural sites and public spaces. Most of the structures were built in the British period. They are in the Victorian Neo Gothic architectural style, Indo-Saracenic Revival or Neoclassical styles. Mumbai is also home to a large number of Art Deco structures, with the largest count of buildings in this style after Miami. Recently, Mumbai’s rich cluster of Victorian and Art Deco buildings in the Fort precinct and Marine Drive was declared a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Elephanta Caves and Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus railway station are already recognised as World Heritage Sites. But do you Know who prepared Mumbai’s first Heritage Site List?
Till 1980s we didn’t have a list of heritage sites of Mumbai though the city is blessed with many. The credit for preparing Mumbai’s first heritage list goes to Foy Nissen, a Danish by root but born in Pune and lived most of his life in Mumbai. Nissen created the first list of 90 buildings at the beginning of the heritage listing in 1980s. In 1984, became an advisor for the Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH).
Nissen did his schooling at the Cathedral and John Connon School where he excelled in art. He was classmate of Alyque Padamsee, a known theatre personality. After school, Nissen went on to do a Master’s in History from Christ’s College, Cambridge. After returning from Cambridge he worked for Marg Magazine before joining British Council.
Last month, Nissen passed away at the age of 88. Last few years he was suffering from both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s.