Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan 1880s

Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan 1880s

Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan (Koningsplein Zuid) in the 1880s

A peaceful view of the eastern entrance to Koningsplein Zuid (now Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan). The photo, by an unknown photographer, was taken from the intersection with Koningsplein Oost (Jalan Medan Merdeka Timur) and Prapatan Gambir (Jalan Ridwan Rais). We are looking west, with the large one square kilometre Koningsplein on the right side. During the 1880s this was very much an empty space. Koningsplein Zuid was surrounded by large trees on both sides, which provided some welcome shade in the tropics.

Stasiun Gambir

At the front we see the railway crossing with a sign “Halt” (Stop). In our times we would see train station Gambir on the right, and the massive new complex of the American Embassy on the left. Since 1992 the train line is elevated and crosses the road at a height of around 10 metres. Jalan Medan Merdeka Selatan is now one-way traffic going west, however a number of 19th century former colonial homes are still present and in excellent condition. See the comment box for a picture of the exact same location in 2019.

source: Leiden University, the Netherlands

Jakarta 1965

Jakarta 1965

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.

Jalan Hayam Wuruk (left) and Jalan Gajah Mada (right), looking into a southerly direction. We see a group of washing ladies and children on the side of the canal, that was known as Molenvliet in colonial days [source: TIME LIFE].
Another view of Jalan Hayam Wuruk (left) and Jalan Gajah Mada (right), further to the south in comparison to the previous picture [source: TIME LIFE].
Jalan Hayam Wuruk (right) and Jalan Gajah Mada (left), looking into a northerly direction. Until 1960 a tram line ran on the side of Jalan Gajah Mada, which connected Jakarta Kota with Taman Harmoni, the plain in front of society De Harmonie [source: TIME LIFE].
A lot of activity along the side of Jalan Hayam Wuruk (right of the trees). The bridge leads to Jalan Gajah Mada on the left. We are looking into a northerly direction [source: TIME LIFE].
The characteristic washing ladies along the former Molenvliet canal on the side of Jalan Gajah Mada, a scene that disappeared from the 1970s onwards [source: TIME LIFE].
Close up of the washing ladies and passing cars along Jalan Gajah Mada [source: TIME LIFE].
Children posing on the corner of Jalan Gajah Mada and Jalan Kesejateraan, looking north [source: TIME LIFE].
A gathering on Jalan Pejambon, looking into a westerly direction. In the distance Gedung Pancasila (the former Volksraad building), with the former Raad van Indiƫ building behind it, and in the far distance we can see part of Gereja Immanuel (former Willemskerk) too [source: TIME LIFE].
View from Lapangan Banteng (the former Waterlooplein), with the Irian Jaya Liberation Monument in the front middle. It was unveiled only two years before this photograph was taken. In the distance MONAS, the National Monument on Medan Merdeka. The smaller white tower just right of it, is part of the Pertamina offices (the former BPM) on the corner of Medan Merdeka Timur and Jalan Perwira [source: TIME LIFE].
MONAS, the National Monument in the centre of Medan Merdeka. The structure itself was completed in the year of this photograph, although it would still remain closed to the public for another 10 years. We see some scaffolding across the base of the monument. Left of it, in the distance, the Istiqlal Mosque under construction. Behind the monument we also see part of the Jakarta Cathedral, which dates back to 1901 [source: TIME LIFE].
An aerial photograph showing the area north of Medan Merdeka, with part of the district Sawah Besar on the foreground. An experienced eye notices Jalan Veteran (formerly Rijswijk) and Jalan Juanda (formerly Noordwijk) halfway towards Medan Merdeka. On the other end of Medan Merdeka, in the far distance, the buildings along the south side of the square in Central Jakarta [source: TIME LIFE].
A view from the northeast towards Medan Merdeka in the distance, with the just completed structure of MONAS, the National Monument. In the far distance the skeleton of Wisma Nusantara under construction. On the left centre of the photo we recognise the Jakarta Cathedral [source: TIME LIFE].
The roundabout with fountain on the intersection Medan Merdeka Selatan (left), Medan Merdeka Barat (behind the photographer), Jalan Budi Kemuliaan (right) and Jalan Thamrin (in the front). We are looking south with part of the new Bank Indonesia building on the right. On the left the characteristic building which is now the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources, but was opened in 1938 as the offices of the Koloniale Petroleum Maatschappij [source: TIME LIFE].
Another view of the fountain of the intersection, this time taken from the southern end of Medan Merdeka Barat, looking south with the buildings on Jalan Thamrin [source: TIME LIFE].
The southern end of Jalan Thamrin and the start of Jalan Sudirman, with the Welcome Monument in the middle. On the left a part of Hotel Indonesia, opened 3 years before this photograph was taken. On the right side of the photo part of the skeleton of Wisma Nusantara, which would not be completed until 1973 [source: TIME LIFE].
Looking along the northern end of Jalan Sudirman towards the Welcome Monument, a bit further south than the previous photograph. Buildings on both sides of this main thoroughfare were still low rise, a sharp contrast with today’s situation [source: TIME LIFE].
The Welcome Monument, with Hotel Indonesia behind it. The hotel was opened in 1962, only 3 years before this photograph was taken. In 1965 one could still see becaks in this area of Jakarta [source: TIME LIFE].
A lively scene in Jakarta, most likely taken in Kota. We could not identify the exact location of this photograph, however if you know… please let us know! [source: TIME LIFE]
Medan Merdeka Utara 1947

Medan Merdeka Utara 1947

Restaurant and Dancing Yen Pin on Koningsplein Noord, 1947

Two young boys, one with a cigarette (!), having a chat with the famous restaurant and dancing Yen Pin at the background. This venue was based on what was then called Koningsplein Noord or Gambir Utara number 14. The owner at the time was a certain Mr. Koeh Boen Tjoen. The dancing, which included a restaurant and bar, was established by Mr. Khouw A. Tong and opened on 3 October 1941. It was located opposite the Deca Park in a building that previously was known as the Carlton Club.

Live music and band

The Bataviaasch Nieuwsblad of 4 October 1941 mentions: “In the early evenings one can sit on the outdoor terrace enjoying delicious Chinese dishes while listening to a live string orchestra. Later in the evening it is only a short stroll to the dance hall, which is cooled and has an excellent dance floor and live band. One can also choose out of three bars where guests are being served by European and Chinese bartender girls. The interior is entirely furnished in Chinese style”.

Still present in 1957

Yen Pin was still present in 1957, but it is unknown when it ceased and when the building was demolished.

photo by Cas Oorthuys; source Netherlands Photo Museum