An atmospheric picture of a cosy and bustling shopping street at night in a Jakarta that soon would be invaded by the Japanese. The photographer stands halfway Pasar Baru, looking in a southerly direction. On the right at number 69 the famous restaurant, patisserie and ice-cream palace “Luilekkerland” (The Land of Cockaigne). Next door at numbers 65-67 the well-known department store “De Bijenkorf”. The Anker Beer sign is in front of restaurant “De Snoeper” at number 63.
On the left we see the photography store “Tan’s Studio” with behind it Toko Bombay. It could well be that the photographer worked at Tan’s Studio. It must have been an attractive scene, or object where the photographer stood on, as most people on the photo are looking into the camera lens.
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.
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.
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.