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.
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.
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.
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