If you think our obsession for Jakarta’s history has reached worrying levels, then you might be right. Who else in the world would get so utterly excited by discovering colonial era relics from the time Jakarta was called Batavia, that we assumed would have all disappeared long ago? When we recently passed the Al Makmur mosque on Jalan Raden Saleh (formerly: Laan Raden Saleh) we discovered something unbelievable.
Thinking that all colonial era street furniture was removed decades ago, we noticed the remains of an original 1930s Batavia street lamp on the bridge next to the mosque. There are a few more on the other corners of the bridge too. The historic picture of the mosque on Jalan Raden Saleh and street lantern dates from 1941. If you know of any other old street lanterns in current day Jakarta, please let us know!
Cars making a U-turn at the Harmoni intersection in front of the Bank Tabungan Negara 40 years ago. At that time the building was still in exactly its original state, before the newly built high rise headquarters were built behind this building in the 1990s and two parts of the front facade on the ground floor were removed to allow cars to enter and exit the grounds through the old building. These days there are basically two big gaps in front of the historic bulding.
It was since 1927 owned by the Postspaarbank (Postal Savings Bank) who modernised it in 1930. During World War II (1942-1945) the bank was named Tjokin Kjokoe. Between 1945 and 1947 it had two entrances: to the left “Bank Tabungan Pos” for Indonesian languaged bank account holders, to the right “Postspaarbank” for bank account holders with a Dutch background. In 1950 it was officially renamed as Bank Tabungan Pos, until it obtained its current name in 1963. Since 2017 the name “Postspaarbank” has returned on top of the red roof of the building again.
Henk van Rinsum
The photographer in 1980 was Henk van Rinsum. He stood in front of the former Hotel des Galeries on the corner of Jalan Hayam Wuruk and Jalan Juanda. Outside this photo to the left, one would be able to admire former society De Harmonie, which entered its last 5 years of its existence; the building was sadly demolished in 1985.
An early morning view of Koningsplein Oost (now Jalan Medan Merdeka Timur) of exactly 90 years ago, with train station Weltevreden (now Stasiun Gambir) on the right side of the road. This train stop already dated back to 1871, however the art deco building we see on the photo here opened in 1929. Although the district name of Weltevreden changed to Batavia Centrum (now Jakarta Pusat) in 1931, the train station retained its name “Weltevreden” until it changed to “Station Koningsplein” in 1937. In 1950 it officially obtained its current name “Gambir”. The art deco train station was demolished in 1992 as the train tracks became elevated and hence the requirement for a new train station.
Tram line 2
At the front we see the elegant poles of tram line 2 which continued until the intersection of Menteng (now Jalan Menteng Raya), Tjikini (Jalan Cikini Raya) and Van Heutszplein (Jalan Cut Meutia). Just beyond the bicycle rider on the left is the turnoff to Hertogspark (now Jalan Pejambon), with the Willemskerk (Gereja Immanuel) on the other side of the road. The road on this photo continues further south until it becomes Prapatan Gambir (now Jalan Ridwan Rais). In the comment section a photo of exact the same site today
A series of 18 unique pictures, showing Jakarta in November 1965. The photographs were taken by Co Rentmeester (1936- ), a professional Dutch rower who, after he joined the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome, moved to the United States to study photography at the Art Center College in Los Angeles.
Rentmeester initially started his career as a freelance photographer in 1965 for LIFE Magazine. Between late 1965 and 1969 Rentmeester was in Asia. where he particularly covered the Vietnam war. One of his pictures showed an M48 tank gunner looking through a gunsight. It was selected as World Press Photo of the Year and notably it was the first colour photograph to win the award. He was in Jakarta following the 1965 coup attempt, and also in Hong Kong during the extensive civil disturbances in 1967.
After Rentmeester was wounded by a Vietcong sniper near Saigon, he returned to the U.S. in 1972. His 1965 pictures from a travel through Indonesia were shown in the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and Asia House, New York. The 1965 photo report of Jakarta shows a city, apparently unmoved by the recent coup attempt.
The shape of this characteristic building on today’s Jalan Menteng Raya is still very much recognisable, but an experienced eye will notice some alterations, most noticeably the removal of the lovely balcony on the first floor. This site on number 27 was until 1941 the premises of IMPLA, the import company of pharmaceutical and agricultural articles, and the exclusive importer of Bayer products in Batavia (Jakarta) at the time. In 1952 the company Electro Import NV housed on what was then officially spelled Djalan Menteng 27. Today it is occupied by PT Mega Eltra, a big contractor company in the field of electrical and technical equipment. The building most likely dates back to the late 1920s or early 1930s.
A little gem in today’s Jakarta is Jalan Menteng Raya, in colonial days just known as Menteng or Oud Menteng (Old Menteng). The percentage of heritage buildings that is still present today along this road is much higher than anywhere else in Central Jakarta. On the eastern side of the road are two identical houses of an interesting architecture at number 11 and 13, now part of the Gedung Bina Manajemen.
Architect J.F.L. Blankenberg
The left house at number 11 was in 1941 the office of one of Batavia’s most well-known architects J.F.L. Blankenberg (1888-1958), who was responsible for a number of majestic houses on the Burgemeester Bisschopplein (now Taman Suropati), the house on today’s Jalan Imam Bonjol 1 which is now the Formulation of Proclamation Text Museum and the former NIROM radio studio building on Koningsplein West (now Medan Merdeka Barat). Menteng number 13 was in 1941 the residence of Mr. C.H.R. Landouw. Both houses most likely date from the late 1910s or early 1920s. Apart from some alterations, they are in excellent condition today.