brief introduction provides the context for the Heritage Trails, which
focus on pre-war buildings. Kuala Lumpur had its origins In the 1850s
when the Malay Chief of Klang sent Chinese upriver to open new and
larger tin mines. They landed at the confluence of Sungai Lumpur (now
Gombak) and Sungal Klang and established mines at Ampang. Later, tin
mines were opened at Pudu and Batu.
This trading post was a
wild frontier town plagued by floods, fires, disease and the Selangor
Civil War (1870-73). During this time, Kapitan Cina Yap Ah Loy emerged
as a leader, responsible for the survival and growth of the town. In
1880. in view of its strategic location, the Selangor state capital was
moved from Klang to Kuala Lumpur. Nothing of this earlier period remains
as all structures were of wood and atap (thatch) which were
destroyed in the fire and subsequent flood of 1881.
Swettenham, the British Resident of Selangor who was Instrumental in the
development of the town, required that buildings be constructed of brick
and tile. The advent of the railway increased accessibility. The
development of buildings intensified in the 1890s so that it warranted
the establishment of the Sanitary Board. In 1896, Kuala Lumpur was
chosen as the capital of the newly formed Federated Malay States.
The multiracial community
of this period settled in various sections of town. Market Square, east
of Sungai Klang, became the commercial centre for the whole town. The
Chinese congregated around this Square and south into Chinatown. To the
north, across Java Street (now Jalan Tun Perak). were the Malays.
Nearby, a number of Indian Chettiars (money-lenders), and in
later years Indian Muslim traders, set up business. West of The river,
the Padang (now Merdeka Square) was the focal point or the British
Kuala Lumpur continued to
grow despite two World Wars. the rubber and tin commodity crash and the
State of Emergency (1948-60) during which Malaya was preoccupied with
the communist insurgency. In 1957, the Federation of Malaya gained its
independence from British rule. Kuala Lumpur remained the capital
through the formation of Malaysia, achieving city status in 1972, and
was established as the Federal Territory in 1974.
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