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Documenting the Art Deco Riches of Mumbai

There’s a little-known trove of Deco buildings hiding in the Indian megacity, and local preservationists are hunting them down.
The 1940s Moti Mahal building uses red banding to striking effect.
The 1940s Moti Mahal building uses red banding to striking effect.Art Deco Mumbai

While aficionados of Art Deco architecture swoon over New York’s Chrysler Building, Paris’ Théâtre des Champs-Élysées, and Miami’s South Beach, the Art Deco gems of another metropolis have remained largely unsung for decades: Mumbai, India, is believed to have the second-largest number of Deco structures in the world, after Miami. Experts estimate the number at more than 200.

Every day, thousands of Mumbaikars walk past elegant façades like those of the Eros and Regal cinemas, the Empress Court Apartments, and the New India Assurance building without a second glance at their rounded corners, geometric decorations, and colorful stucco—features that define the Art Deco style.