SELANGOR IN THE EARLY 1800s
Miners came up the rivers as far as their boats could go and then struck overland for the last few miles to the chosen mining site. Produce from the interior came down the rivers by boat. The location of Klang at the river mouth was the point of entry and exit and therefore was also the point of control for the whole Klang valley.
AT THE BEGINNING
The success of the tin mines in Ampang (and later Pudu and Batu) led to the development of a trading settlement at Kuala Lumpur. The original point of settlement at KL was the landing stage and trading post on the east bank of the Klang River, at its confluence with the Gombak River. As the river was a main source of transportation in those days, human settlement along the route to the tin field was common. It is very probable that a village (kampung) existed at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers prior to the establishment of KL as a trading settlement.
This trading post was an unhealthy and dangerous place to live in - plagued by floods, fires, disease and civil war (1867 - 73). During this period, Kapitan Cina Yap Ah Loy emerged as a leader. He became the third Kapitan Cina of KL (after Hiew Siew and Liu Ngim Kong) in 1868 and was credited for being responsible for the survival and growth of KL. Yap Ah Loy died in 1885.
UNDER BRITISH PROTECTION
The multiracial community settled in various sections of KL. Market Square, east of the Klang river, became the commercial centre. The Chinese congregated here 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. The west bank of the river, the Padang (now Merdeka Square) was the focal point of the British administration.
The houses and buildings in the early days were of mudwall, plank and attap (thatch of palm fronds), built along narrow streets. These were destroyed in the fires and subsequent flood of 1881.
Frank Swettenham, the British Resident of Selangor (1882 - 89) took charge of the rebuilding of KL. Property owners were required to rebuilt with bricks and tiled roofs. This made KL healthier, safer and more attractive. He also introduced the use of railway which spurred economic development. The Sanitary Board was formed in 1890 to look into municipal administration and improvement. Kuala Lumpur was chosen as the capital of the newly formed Federated Malay States in 1896.
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Last updated: 23rd January, 2003.
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