The Historical City Of Georgetown Penang

The Charm of Georgetown Penang

Georgetown Penang has long been associated with the British even though it is described as the latecomers in a line of Western Colonialists in Malaysia's history. The British left arguably the most enduring legacy, particularly in the legislation and development of Georgetown into a modern city. If you talk about the history of Penang, it will never be complete without mentioning the arrival of British in 1786 and the subsequent introduction of British rule in the day-to-day administration and governance of Penang.

Many would have agree that without the British rule in Penang, the shape and destiny of heritage conservation could have turned out to be entirely different. Many historical landmarks and ethnic enclave still stand until this day that bears the inspiration of various influences.

As the capital of Penang, Georgetown has one of the largest collections of 19th and early 20th century building among south East Asia countries. Many proclaim Georgetown Penang as a living historical city with inner city communities, mysterious place of worship, guilds, day and night markets, bazaar, traditional trades and retail shops. The town a magical wanders of Penang and is a lively city by itself.

Since 1948, Georgetown Penang heritage building had been protected under a Rent Control Act. Which means under no circumstances, the architecture of the old city can be alter or rebuilt. A 1994 census later showed that Penang had more than 12,000 rent control premises with over 8,000 located in the heart of Georgetown.

The bad news is that, the repealing of Rent Control which is coming nearer in the new millennium, tenant who has lived in the historical city for the past 50 years may face potential dislocation. That means, a whole historic environment together with the old way of life for Penangites may disappear forever. Penang's living heritage city is now facing a bleak future following the repeal and many have voice their unhappiness. The Penang State Government is doing all it can to ensure that George Town's heritage city and living culture will survive in this difficult period. For example, getting Georgetown to be recognized as a World Heritage City will go a long way towards achieving the goal.

You might not know it but the first four streets of Georgetown which is mapped by their British founding fathers such as Beach Street, Light Street, Penang Street, Pitt Street and Chulia Street are still very much relevant and bustle with traffic everyday. It is the streets with hive of non-stop activities - Day or night.

At the Muntri Street, old men are playing Mahjong in their century old shophouses; many of them direct descendants of former owners and are doing just what their ancestors did. Love Lane supposedly gets its name from the fact that the wealthy English and Chinese merchants kept their mistresses here. In historic Acheen Street is the house in which Sun Yat-Sen planned the Canton uprising and houses of the old Muslim spice traders with their Moorish courtyards.

While Penang Streets is a heaven for shoppers, the Beach Street is well known as a tourist famous spot. Here you will be able to visit some of the Colonial Quarter such as Fort Cornwallis, Esplanade, City Hall, Court-house, St. George's Church, Convent Light Street, Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion, the Protestant Cemetery, and many other historical buildings. Short distances away are best described as the historic port settlements in Penang or 'ethnic enclaves'. This is where you can find the Little India commercial hub, Kapitan Keling mosque, Goddess of Mercy Temple,
Mahamariamman Temple, Armenian Street, Acheen Street, Chinatown, Khoo Kongsi, King Street, Weld Quay and others.

So... If you haven't been to Georgetown Penang, perhaps it is now the right time. It is a town with a unique charm and filled with vibrant color and non-stop festivities that you can never find elsewhere.

AMY WHITE from Australia

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