This project has been initiated under the Fort Management Plan.
Horniman Circle lies at the heart of the Fort precinct, defined by the Reserve Bank of India and the Town Hall on its eastern edge with the Horniman circle gardens as the central focus. Historically, the area was known as Bombay Green, an unprotected area mainly used for the storage of cotton bales, opium and other merchandise. It is also a historical landmark where in 1851, an informal group of twenty two stock brokers would trade under the banyan tree and thus begin the Native Share and Stock brokers Association which further manifested itself as the Bombay Stock Exchange. As trading activities moved from Bombay Green in the late 19th century, the dusty grounds were given the shape of a circular open garden under Mumbai’s first major urban design scheme, planned in 1869 and completed in 1972 with well laid walkways and trees and now known as Elphinstone circle. The buildings around the circle primarily engaged in financial activity. In 1947, the Elphinstone Circle was renamed after B.G. Horniman, the renowned pro-freedom editor of the Bombay Samachar Press.
Today, the Horniman Circle area is no longer the heart of the financial district of the city and pressures on urban space and infrastructure have worn down its physical environment. The garden was upgraded in 1995 and the cast iron fencing enclosing the garden restored by the Horniman Circle Trust which also commissioned this study in 1998. The report by UDRI outlines issues for conservation of the Horniman circle in addition to recommendations for the conservation of buildings around it. The report acted as a catalyst in the formation of the Horniman circle association, instituted in 1999 and which has since prepared a detailed conservation blueprint for the restoration of this heritage precinct along with architectural controls to be followed by all buildings in the area. It consequently expanded its scope to include the Banking District and act as a catalyst for its restoration and physical upgradation.