A rare view in colour of the eastern end of the Van Heutszplein (now Taman Cut Meutia) with the intersection at Tjikini (Cikini). At the end of this road it turns left into Menteng (Jalan Menteng Raya) and right into Tjikini (Jalan Cikini Raya) and Oud Gondangdia (Jalan R.P. Soeroso). There are so many interesting sights on this picture. Behind the car is the 19th century Indies house known at the time as “Huize Vijfsprong” (Rumah Simpang Lima), a home for single and homeless girls. It was demolished but completely rebuilt a few years ago using the original drawings and is now called “De Fontein” (The Fountain) and will be the entrance and conference hall of a high rise apartment block that will be constructed soon.
The tram of line 5 on this picture passes the tram stop. This covered shed was built in 1899 when the electric tram between Tanah Abang and Cikini was introduced, 12 years before the road on this picture was constructed. At that time there was only a small dirt road next to the tram line, called Gang Kampoeng Baroe that led to the nearby kampung with the same name. Behind the tram we see the Tjikini post office (Kantor Pos Cikini) that -at the time of this photo- was under construction, but nearly reached completion. It would open in December 1941. The house with red roof tiles on the right had the address Oud Gondangdia 1 and was in 1941 the home of Mr. F. van Otten, director of the Batavia branch of the Semarangsche Zee en Brand Assurantie Maatschappij (Semarang Sea and Fire Insurance Company). This picture is a screenshot of rare colour footage, shot by Dutch cameraman Mr. J.H. Zindler, only a few months before the Japanese invasion.
Construction of new houses in the district of New Gondangdia started off very slowly in the first three years. In 1911 16 houses were built, of which 11 on what is now Taman Cut Meutia (formerly Entree Gondangdia and from 1932 onwards Van Heutszplein). In 1912 34 new houses were delivered, in 1913 66. These new houses were built immediately southwest of the train line next to the new building of De Bouwploeg (now Mesjid Cut Meutia) along newly constructed streets like Nieuwe Tamarindelaan (now Jalan Sam Ratulangi), Tandjonglaan (now Jalan Tanjung), Villalaan (now Jalan Cendana) and the prestigious double-lane “Boulevard Gondangdia” which became Van Heutszboulevard in 1924 and Jalan Teuku Umar in 1950.
Most of these streets were not longer than 100-200 metres in 1913, and would then end in sawahs, fish ponds and coconut plantations, as the majority of New Gondangdia and Menteng still characterised at the time. However drilling work could be witnessed at several locations, to prepare the soil for upcoming building works. Construction of the building of De Bouwploeg itself started in April 1912 and was completed in November 1913. This picture dates from 1913 and shows De Bouwploeg in the distance nearing its completion with some bamboo scaffolding left around the dome. The two trams than ran along the middle section of the double road belonged to the line that connected Tanah Abang with Cikini/Kali Pasir.
This new Entree Gondangdia still had a more less countrified appearance in 1913, however the street would soon be lined with majestic palm trees, also known as ‘koningspalm’ in Dutch or ‘palem raja’ in Bahasa Indonesia, and would give the scene a more prominent and stylish character
source: from a postcard in the collection of Leiden University
From 1947 onwards a number of houses on Laan Wiechert (now Jalan Kramat VII) were occupied by Moluccan/Maluku families. And even today there is a lively Moluccan community in the area. Following the events of Indonesia’s independence in August 1945, many residents from predominantly Christian districts in Indonesia, like Minahasa (North Celebes/Sulawesi), Timor and Ambon, who were traditionally well represented in the Dutch East Indies Army (KNIL) were accused of ‘sympathising’ with the Dutch during the bersiap years (1945-1949). Many of them felt unsafe in Jakarta and were threatened and bullied by local residents. After a Moluccan family was terribly killed in Jatinegara and thrown into a well, an estimated 120 Moluccan families fled to Kramat.
Japanese internment camp
As the side streets of Kramat had been part of a Japanese internment camp during World War II, the streets were still partly fenced off and secluded, hence many felt safe to gather in this area. The community installed guards and built the Eben Haezer Church on Jalan Kramat VII in 1948, which still stands today. Following the events of the declaration of the Republik Maluku Selatan (RMS) in 1950, the Kramat area was the scene of many Moluccan protests and gatherings, like on this picture from November 1950taken in front of the house on Jalan Kramat VII 23. The name Jalan Kramat VII was only given to the street around 1960.
Following the mass change of street names in independent Djakarta in July 1950, Laan Wiechert changed into Djalan Sofir. Also Jalan Kramat V had an intermediate name: Kramatlaan changed into Djalan Mutiara in July 1950, before it obtained its current name 10 years later.
sources: Google, Moluks Historisch Museum, BBC Indonesia
When researching the development of architect P.A.J. Moojen’s houses in Kramat, there are unfortunately many gaps. Especially as over the years very few photos were taken. There is a decent series of pictures from 1912, taken just after the completion of the houses on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) and Laan Wiechert (Jalan Kramat VII). Since then, not a single history book on Batavia and Jakarta published about these architecturally interesting monuments. Hence we are dependent on current and previous residents, their cameras and their well kept archives. Fortunately there are some photos of the house on Kramatlaan (Jalan Kramat V) number 14. This was the first Moojen house on the right side of this street when approaching from the main Kramat road (now Jalan Kramat Raya).
One of the first residents were the Van Velthoven family in the 1910s. In 1933 this house was owned by the famous Dutch novelist Maria Dermout (1888-1962) and her family. We see her standing in the middle of the top right photo. Between 1942 and 1945 it was part of the Japanese internment camp Kramat and a few dozen families lived in this house under poor circumstances. During this time many original fittings, especially timber and glass, were removed.
In the late 1950s house number 14 was the office of SOBSI (Sentral Organisasi Buruh Seluruh Indonesia), the largest trade union federation in Indonesia at the time. In the decades after the house has been severely altered, and today there is not much that reminds of the original Moojen design. We are grateful that the granddaughter of Maria Dermout shared the 1933 photo with us. Also a big thank you to Pak Larry Jacob for providing us with the 1950s photo, which was taken from the first floor of the opposite house on number 1, which has been in his family since 1948.
Since the publication of our book 250 YEARS IN OLD JAKARTA we have been approached by many people from all over the world who, after reading the book, wanted to share their experiences and their childhood stories in Tanah Abang. Some only have vague memories, others know all facts and have photos to prove too. @Zaky Awab from Jakarta kindly shared with us a photo of his late father Awab Al Kuddeh (1934-1984) who is praying with many others as part of Idul Fitri in front of one of the 18th century two-storey houses on Tanah Abang Bukit (formerly Tanah Abang Heuvel). Pak Awab was married to the daughter of Tanah Abang Kebon Dalam resident and landowner Ali Al Djawas.
Behind him we see the western wing of the former estate that was built by Governor General Van Imhoff in the 1740s. It was subsequently in possession of the Van Riemsdijk family (late 18th and early 19th century) and the Bik family (mid 19th century to first half 20th century). From 1954 these houses were part of the headquarters of Indonesia’s Air Force (AURI) and from 1969 till 1978 the Air Force Museum (Museum AURI). This photo dates from the 1970s but it is not exactly known from what year.
The historic photo shows the same house from nearly the same angle in the year 1900 and was taken by the German biologist K. Giesenhagen who was the guest of German consul Von Syburg, who lived in this house from 1899 till 1903. The two houses were demolished shortly after 1983 and the site is now occupied by concrete ‘ruko’ (rumah toko) blocks of Pasar Tanah Abang Blok E.