The very oldest pictures of Batavia/Jakarta in full colour date from 1937. James Anthony FitzPatrick’s series “The Voice of the Globe”, of which yesterday we posted footage from 1939, already pictured Java with a Technicolor camera in 1937. Well, it was broadcasted in American cinemas in March 1937 so it could well be that we are looking here at colour images from 1936. It is part of a combined episode “Glimpses of Java and Ceylon” however we will only show Java here.
We see footage of Kali Besar, the Chinese quarter, Molenvliet and the famous ‘rijsttafel’ (rice table) at Hotel des Indes. Including attractive glasses of cold beer in colour served in the garden of this famous Batavia/Jakarta landmark of the past. Enjoy these unique pictures… the oldest footage in colour we have of our beloved city.
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.
The condition of most asphalted streets in Batavia/Djakarta after World War II was of a bad condition. During the years of war the Japanese did not invest in maintaining public buildings and streets in the city. Most buildings which were painted in camouflage green in the second half of 1941, did not return in their bright white colours until the second half of 1946 or early 1947. Throughout 1947 and 1948, when it was relatively quiet and the city mostly back under Dutch control, efforts were made to re-install street signs and restore damaged streets and pedestrian paths, like here on the Citadelweg (changed in 1950 into Jalan Segara 1 and now called Jalan Veteran 1).
We have an interesting view of the street, looking towards the north. On the left on number 19 Rama Stores, which specialised in sports accessories. Number 18 housed the firm ‘Nieuw Holland’. On number 17 Enkfa tailors, where Mr. J. Schonewille was Director. The strip of these three stores is now occupied by Restaurant Dapur Babah. In 1948 there were more tailors further up the street: Arrichiello on number 12A, and Ragusa Frères (Ragusa brothers) on number 9. The tailors Luigi and Vincenzo Ragusa, who owned this store, also started selling ice cream on the annual Pasar Gambir from 1932 onwards, and in 1947 opened a permanent store on Citadelweg 10, next to the tailor shop. Today Ragusa Es Italia (Italian ice cream) is still based along this same street on number 10.
We have obtained a rare train ticket for the trip from Pandjang (or Paroeng Pandjang, now Parung Panjang in West Java) to Tanah Abang in Batavia/Jakarta. It is not known from what year exactly but comparing the tariff for this trip with those from before World War II, and the ones in the Indonesian language from the early 1950s, it suggests this train ticket must be from the late 1940s. During the 1930s prices of train tickets were much lower as a result of the financial crisis. Train tickets we have seen from the early 1950s are in exactly the same design but then obviously in the Indonesian language and in Rupiahs rather than Guilders. However if any readers recognise such train tickets from their travel experiences in the past and be able to date this more precisely, we would love to hear that.
Tickets bought via K.P.M.
Parung Panjang was an important train stop on the line between Rangkasbetoeng/Rangkasbitung and Batavia/Jakarta. This ticket, with the option to travel first class for the full rate or second class for half rate, has been issued aboard one of the vessels of the Koninklijke Paketvaart Maatschappij (KPM) and suggests that passengers, who travelled between the islands of the Indies/Indonesia, had the opportunity to purchase train tickets before arrival, which probably would have saved them the hassle of queuing in front of the counters on the train stations, so they could go straight to the train platforms. It is surprising that such ordinary and everyday items like train tickets have become so rare. We can only assume because they were usually disposed of after usage.
This road between Jalan Thamrin and Pasar Tanah Abang in Jakarta is officially part of the subdistrict Tanah Abang and has had many names over the years. Around 1800 it was called “Weg van Weltevreede naar Tanna Abang” (road from Weltevreden to Tanah Abang). It basically was the road that Justinus Vinck had built in 1735 to connect the newly constructed pasars of Tanah Abang and Senen. During the second half of the 19th century the name “Kampoeng Lima” started to appear on maps, a name that has existed until the construction of New Gondangdia during the 1910s. As soon as the Nieuwe Tamarindelaan (now Jalan Dr Sam Ratulangi, or Jalan Asam Baru) was opened, the Kampoeng Lima road was renamed into Oude Tamarindelaan (Old Tamarind road).
Jalan Asam Lama
Even after independence it was still known as Jalan Asam Lama (the Indonesian translation of Old Tamarind) until the second half of the 1950s when it was renamed into Djalan KH Wahid Hasjim (in 1972 after the spelling change it became Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim), named after the minister of religious affairs in a couple of Soekarno’s cabinets. He died tragically in a car accident in 1953, only 38 years old. His son Abdurrahman Wahid (or Gus Dur) became the later President of Indonesia. The street name Jalan KH Hasyim Ashari (formerly Gang Chaulan) is named after the father of KH Wahid Hasyim.
Queen Juliana state visit
It was Dutch photographer Joost Evers (of ANEFO) who -in Jakarta during the state visit of Queen Juliana in August 1971- left his hotel during a break, walked from Jalan Thamrin to Pasar Tanah Abang and took dozens of beautiful and razorsharp colour photos. These lovely pictures show peaceful scenes of a street that apparently looks like it could have been in a small town in Central Java. A striking contrast with the four lane noisy Jalan KH Wahid Hasyim of today. When staying in Hotel Kosenda on this street last year I got told by an old Jakarta man that this street is still known by its nickname Jalan Asam Lama.