Kali Besar Zuid 1940

Kali Besar Zuid 1940

The section between Kali Besar and Pancoran these days is called Jalan Pintu Kecil. However in colonial Jakarta this stretch existed of two parts: “Pintoe Ketjil” between Kali Besar and the intersection Asemka-Petak Baru-Petongkangan, and “Kali Besar Zuid” between this intersection and Toko Tiga where the road continued as Pantjoran (now Jalan Pancoran).

Kali Besar Zuid, looking south towards Pancoran in 1940

Original course of the Ciliwung River

Kali Besar Zuid followed the original curved course of the Ciliwung River that was just outside the walls of 17th century Batavia and wasn’t straightened when the city was constructed in 1629.

Today the aforementioned intersection is dominated by the Pasar Pagi flyover and modern ruko (rumah toko) have all replaced the lovely characteristic Chinese style shophouses along the west bank of the river. However 83 years ago Kali Besar Zuid was a lively and photogenic part of Batavia, and also known by the locals as “Kali Besar Tjina” (Chinese Kali Besar).

Old and modern buildings

On this photo from 1940 we can clearly see the street sign “Kali Besar Zuid” just before the bridge on the left over the river that led to Asemka and Stationsplein (Lapangan Stasiun). In between the original 19th century Chinese shophouses and eateries already a few modern early 20th century buildings. All of these have since been demolished (see the modern photo in the comments section).

[source photo: NMVW, the Netherlands]

The same view in 2022 [source: Google Street View]
Kali Besar 1975

Kali Besar 1975

View to the drawbridge and MacLaine Watson & Co building in 1975

A unique view of the bridge over Kali Besar. This drawbridge, fully renovated during the time of Governor Ali Sadikin in the 1970s, dates back to 1628 and was known as Hoenderpasarbrug (Chicken Market Bridge) due to a nearby poultry market. Nowadays it is named Jembatan Kota Intan. It narrowly escaped demolition in 1937 when the Batavia City Council had progressed plans to demolish it. Thanks to a private initiative sufficient money could be raised to save the bridge. Most of the original wooden beams have been replaced by steel ones during the 1970s renovation.

MacLaine, Watson & Co

Equally (or maybe even more) interesting are the original premises of MacLaine, Watson & Co at the back along Kali Besar Barat (West). MacLaine, Watson & Co was one of Asia’s largest trading companies dating back to the 1820s. This elegant building already appeared on pictures from the 1870s, and we have still seen it on a Dutch Polygoon video of 1985. Unfortunately it does no longer exist. Somewhere between 1985 and 1995 the building was demolished and replaced by a nondescript structure.

source: NMVW, the Netherlands