The birth of Nairobi as a city is the result of the railway construction by the British. Halfway on the route from the coast to Lake Victoria, the railway engineers found a swampy place, named
by the Masai as ‘Enkare Neerobi’- place of cool waters. The Chief Engineer of the Railways decided that this was a suitable place to build railway repair yards and workshops. Soon a tent city of traders, adventurers and settlers grew.
With the completion of the railway, the headquarters of the colonial administration was moved from
Mombasa to the cooler, small settlement of Nairobi. Now, as the capital of the British Protectorate, the future of the city on the swamp was assured. Once the railway was up and running, wealth began to flow into the city. Immediately, the colonialists began to show an interest in touring the country, and a stay in the relatively cool capital became a standard part of the trip to Kenya. The colonial government built some grand hotels to accommodate the first tourists to Kenya - big game hunters, lured by the attraction of shooting the country's almost naively tame wildlife.
Nairobi quickly became a tent city and a supply depot, and soon enough developed into the administrative nerve-centre of the Uganda Railway. The place became a convenient and relatively cool place for the Indian railway laborers and their British overlords to pause midway before tackling the arduous climb into the highlands.
The town was totally rebuilt in the early 1900s after an outbreak of plague and the subsequent burning down of the original town. By 1907, Nairobi was a humming commercial center and replaced Mombasa as capital of the British East Africa. The city expanded, supported by the growth in administrative functions and in tourism, initially in the form of British big game hunting. As the British colonialists explored the region, they began using Nairobi as their first stop. This prompted the colonial government to build several grand hotels in the city for British tourists and big game hunters.