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Published: Thursday January 30, 2014 MYT 8:30:00 AM
Updated: Thursday January 30, 2014 MYT 8:46:39 AM

A glorious past and present

The confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers as it was in 1977 (left) and today.

The confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers as it was in 1977 (left) and today.

IN celebration of Federal Territory Day, we take a picturesque journey through history to get a 'then and now' glimpse of the transformation undergone by Malaysia's capital as it weathers the tide of development and progress of culture.

Brickfields

Brickfields, otherwise known as Little India in 1992 (left). A new hotel has come up in place of the old struture, and decorative arches now line the streets.

Little India, named due to the area's high presence of Indian residents and businessmen, began as a medium-sized town on the fringes of Kuala Lumpur. It has steadily evolved into a well-known trade district and tourist landmark, specialising in textiles, spices, food and gold, among other merchandise.

As seen from the picture taken in Sept 20, 1992, the area had not yet undergone its many beautification projects, and the now-demolished Peking House was still a famous landmark. Drop by the area today and you will see vibrant and colourful decorations with Indian elements along the main roads and shops.

Google Maps link here:

Bukit Bintang

Jalan Bukit Bintang on Feb 13, 1993 (left) and today. Traffic was sparse as the picture was taken during Chinese New Year.

Jalan Bukit Bintang was – and still is – a prominent commercial hub of the city, with many Chinese entrepreneurs originally setting up businesses along the stretch.

The picture taken during Chinese New Year on Feb 13, 1993, shows an empty Bukit Bintang as everyone returned home to celebrate the festival. Today, many Middle Eastern restaurants and establishments have a presence there.

One of the area's casualties of modernisation is the Cathay Cinema, which was torn down in 1997. In the picture taken on Aug 29, 1988, thousands of theatre buffs can be seen queuing for free tickets to a movie screening.

Movie buffs line up outside the Cathay cinema for free tickets on Aug 29, 1988. All that remains of the cinema today is a construction site.

Google Maps link here: 

Central Market

Founded in 1988, the Kuala Lumpur Central Market's started out as a wet market. The building that stands today was completed in 1937 and has since been recognised as a Malaysian heritage site.

Rickshaws wait outside Central Market - then a wet market - for customers on Jan 5, 1982. The entrance has been retained, but the interior is now air-conditioned and houses mainly arts and crafts stores.

To the romantic layman, Central Market represents the heart of the city, an infusion of socialisation, commerce and culture.

The market has undergone many renovations and expansions and is now a centre for diverse genres of Malaysian art. One can purchase crafts and traditional items or rub shoulders with notable members of the local art scene.

In March and April 1986, a mezzanine floor was added to building.

The pictures on the left, taken in March and April 1986, show a refurbishment of the Central Market when a mezzanine floor was added to the building.

Google Maps link here: 

Chow Kit

Chow Kit is known as the market centre of central Kuala Lumpur, boasting a daily wet market and night market alongside its many business establishments that operate along the main thoroughfare.

Although certain sections allegedly play residence to homes of ill-repute, visitors can still safely observe the hustle and bustle of Chow Kit by keeping to the more open areas.

KL's infamous minibuses are now part of the city's history, and have since been replaced with RapidKL buses.

The first picture, taken on March 24, 1984 shows iconic pink Mini Buses, which have since been replaced with Rapid buses, and pedestrian walks expanded to allow for safer and more comfortable shopping.

On Apr 14, 1986, Malaysian singing legend Sudirman Arshad staged a free concert at Chow Kit, drawing in a remarkable crowd of 100,000, effectively bringing all traffic to a standstill.

Jalan Chow Kit was transformed into a giant concert venue, when famed Malaysian entertainer Sudirman Haji Arshad gave a historic free performance there on Apr 14, 1986.

Google Maps link here:

Jalan Dang Wangi

Take a stroll along Jalan Dang Wangi and you are sure to catch a glimpse of the Odeon Theatre. The picture taken on Jan 2, 1991 and the later picture on the right show the same building with promotional posters of films plastered along its exterior.

Small shops have taken advantage of Dang Wangi's prime location and made base on the ground floor of the theatre.

The Odeon Theatre on Jalan Dang Wangi is still in operation today, but mainly screens Hindi movies.

Google Maps link here:

Dataran Merdeka

During Kuala Lumpur's early days, the Sultan Abdul Samad building stood as a solitary structure, dominating the landscape opposite the Dataran Merdeka. Today, the skyline is shared by many new and modern structures that create an interesting contrast to the building's classic Mughal-inspired architecture.

Brass bands from eight schools combine for the very first Federal Territory Day on Feb 1, 1974 (left). Today, the skyline behind the Sultan Abdul Samad building is drastically different.

The Sultan Abdul Samad building undergoing a hetfy RM16.9mil renovation in 1984 (left)

Google Maps link here: 

Confluence of the Gombak and Klang rivers

This is where it all began - the confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers. The city was said to have been founded in 1857 on this very patch of land. In the picture taken in 1977, the river still meandered through the city, bordered by muddy banks.

Later on, its banks were reinforced with concrete, constructed to avert floods and ease water flow. Skyscrapers have also sprung up close by, but the stalwart waterway remains.

Google Maps link here: 

Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman

Formerly known as Batu Road, Jalan TAR was renamed after Malaysia's first Yang di-Pertuan Agung from Negri Sembilan. Among its many trademark buildings is the Coliseum Theatre, built in the 1920s.

The Coliseum Theatre (left, picture courtesy of Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia) has changed little and is still popular with moviegoers today.

The theatre's adjoining bakery was later turned into a hotel and restaurant. In the 1930s, the Coliseum staged live performances but has now switched to screening movies. Drop by the Coliseum café for its famed sizzling steak, always something to look forward to for Sunday lunches!

Jalan TAR looking deserted during Ramadan on Jan 31, 1995 (left). Some stores such as Restoran Insaf, A&W and Bata are still operating in the same locations.

Google Maps link here: 

Kuala Lumpur Railway Station

A monument of more than 100 years, the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station is still in use today as a stop for KTM Komuter trains and express busses. The Heritage Station Hotel, located within the premises, is a welcome haven for weary travellers in need of rest and recuperation.

The KL Railway station in the early 1910s (left). A new wing was added to the right portion of the stucture as shown in the modern-day picture.

In the picture taken in the early 1910s, the station was one of the largest buildings in the area. After numerous renovations and additions, the Railway Station still strikes an impressive figure in the city landscape.

Until the 1990s, the interior of the station was largely unchanged, with similar signboards denoting gates. If anything has changed today, it is the digital signage and train schedules in place of older analogue clocks and signs.

The interior of the station is largely unchanged, but signage and clocks have since been digitised.

Google Maps link here: 

Pudu roundabout

The Pudu roundabout used to stand between the Cahaya Suria tower and Pudu Sentral Bus Terminal (formerly Puduraya), the busiest bus station in Kuala Lumpur. In the picture taken on Sept 18, 1989, the roundabout was a prominent feature.

The Pudu area has seen significant development. Gone is the roundabout, and the train track is now a prominent feature of the area.

Now, the roundabout is no more but the intersection is even busier and an elevated railway track runs across the road. Interestingly, the skyline remains largely unaltered despite the road's many changes on the ground.

Google Maps link here: 

Petaling Street

Chinatown has long been a haven for cheap goods and accessories. A walk though Petaling Street will find enthusiastic shoppers haggling for bargains and tourists browsing through 'branded' merchandise. Today, a bright blue roof has been installed over the area to protect visitors from the elements.

Petaling Street in Feb 10, 1985 was still filled with shoppers despite it being the CNY period (left). Shoppers still throng the street today, albeit in better comfort due to the installation of a roof.
A photograph taken on Feb 22, 1992 (left) at the Jalan Cheng Lock end of the road in preparation for a carnival.

Google Maps link here: 

Starpix of modern-day Kuala Lumpur by AZMAN GHANI and YAP CHEE HONG

Related stories:

A kaleidoscope of culture

Green in the city

Tags / Keywords: Central Region, FT Day, 40th Anniversary, Kuala Lumpur

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