Molenvliet Canal 1938

Molenvliet Canal 1938

An original colour photograph of the Molenvliet canal in Batavia/Jakarta in 1938. This photo is from a rare collection of so-called stereolight views which could be viewed with a stereoscope to create the illusion of a 3D image.

Washing ladies along the Molenvliet canal, 1938.

Colour or coloured?

These days we often see ‘coloured’ historic images of Jakarta on social media, however those that post these have been using free or paid apps from the internet, which ‘guess’ the colours based on shades of black, white and grey, and more than often these result in improper and unrealistic colours, for example roof tiles that look brownish instead of red/orange, strange coloured faces, and trees that all seem to have similar shades of green. These coloured photos do certainly not represent the true colours of the time.


It therefore is unique to see this original colour photo from 85 years ago. We are looking in a northwesterly direction just north of the crossing with Ketapang Noord/Utara. The road on the opposite side of the canal is what is now Jalan Gajah Mada (formerly Molenvliet West) which we recognise thanks to the poles of the electric tram. The larger intersection with Ketapang and Sawah Besar is 100 metres further south (i.e. seen from the back of the photographer).

Chinese shophouses

Left and right of the bridge we see Chinese style shophouses, some with clear signs. The left, most likely ‘Toko Hariz Maarie & Co” sells and buys second hand bicycles. To the right “Roemah Obat Seng Hoo Tong”, a Chinese medicine shop. In the 1930s the Molenvliet Canal was still a busy thoroughfare to transport goods and building materials as we can see, and the scene of washing ladies on the side of Molenvliet Oost (Jalan Hayum Wuruk) was inseparably linked to this north south running canal, that is until the early 1970s.

The number combination on the footbridge (16-6-36) possibly indicates that this metal bridge was only constructed two years before this photo was taken.

The same view in 2022 [source: Google Street View]
Jalan Hayam Wuruk 1951

Jalan Hayam Wuruk 1951

Jalan Hayam Wuruk, formerly Molenvliet Oost, in 1951

A rare colour photo of an iconic building on Jalan Hayam Wuruk 56-57, formerly Molenvliet Oost. On the left is the famous Tek Sun Ho “Eerste Weltevredensche Koffiebranderij” (First Coffee Roastery in Weltevreden), Weltevreden being the district which is now known as Jakarta Pusat. This coffee roastery was based along Molenvliet Oost since 1878.

The fourth generation (!) of the same family, now called Widjaja, is still doing business in coffee roasting and operating the Bakoel Koffie cafe in Cikini in the lovely row of architectural 1920s shops along Jalan Cikini Raya. This cafe is still a frequent and welcoming oasis for us at the end of historic researching and exhausting photo taking day activities in Jakarta. Bakoel also has an activity based cafe in Bintaro Sector 7.

On the right of this picture is NV Lim Tjoei Keng, a business in all kinds of car tools and accessories. A picture of Jalan Hayam Wuruk is never complete without the equally iconic washing ladies who still dominated this scene in the early 1950s and give this picture such a nostalgic Batavia/Djakarta atmosphere. Not only the washing ladies have disappeared long ago, but both buildings have been demolished too.

[source: Pieter Zonneveld, the Netherlands]

Taman Glodok 1954

Taman Glodok 1954

Taman Glodok Djakarta, looking south, in 1954

A unique and colourful photo taken just south of Pasar Glodok, looking south towards the start of the former Molenvliet canal.

At the front of the photo is where Jalan Hayam Wuruk (left) and Jalan Gajah Mada (right behind the trees) are coming together to mark the start of Jalan Pintu Besar Selatan. The roadworks at the front left are taking place at the turnoff to Jalan Blustru (formerly Gang Lindeteves), which leads to the Mangga Besar district, east of Glodok. On the corner is a small police post. The former Glodok jail is on the left but behind the photographer and was still present in 1954 as the Pendjara Glodok.

This picture strikingly shows the transition between colonial garden-city Batavia with its tree-lined orderly streets and modern Jakarta with its ongoing struggle to digest traffic and manage pollution. The streets are still marked by some majestic trees, but as we can see they are clearly suffering along the small streets that scream to be widened to allow for the growing traffic. Becaks and cars already mark a steady traffic flow on Jalan Hayam Wuruk. Nevertheless, the Anker Beer advertisement sign close to the start of the canal was still present at this location in the mid 1980s. This rare colour photo was taken by Everardus de Jong.

[source: NMVW, the Netherlands]