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Magazine Road, George Town, Penang

Magazine Road runs through the modern centre of George Town, along major landmarks like KOMTAR and 1st. Avenue Mall.

Magazine Road is a major one-way road that cuts through the George Town city centre. Running along KOMTAR, 1st. Avenue Mall, Sia Boey Market and high-rise hotels, it stretches from its eastern intersection with Magazine Road Ghaut and Bridge Street towards Magazine Circus to the west. Magazine Circus, where Magazine Road, Penang Road, Macalister Road, Dato' Keramat Road and Brick Kiln Road meet, is now regarded as the centrepoint of George Town.

Magazine Road sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Magazine Road sign.

The road is also the northernmost road within George Town's Seven Streets Precint, where Straits Eclectic-style houses were built in the early 20th. century, creating an urban residential area.

Ongoing developments along Magazine Road has served to underscore its importance as one of the major thoroughfares in the heart of George Town. Shophouses along the road are being restored, even as a new high-rise executive suite is being constructed just opposite KOMTAR. In addition, an LRT interchange station is to be built at the former Sia Boey Market under the Penang Transport Master Plan.

Etymology

Magazine Road was named after a British-owned ammunition depot located at Magazine Circus (where GAMA now stands).

As Magazine Road is also the first road to the south the Prangin Canal, the Chinese called it Koay Kang'a Th'au3 Tiau3 Lor3 in Hokkien, meaning 'the first road after the canal'.

History

Magazine Road, George Town, Penang (3)

Aerial view of Magazine Road as seen from the 59th.floor of KOMTAR. Visible here are 1st. Avenue Mall (left) and St. Giles Wembley Hotel (right), flanked by the heritage houses of the Seven Streets Precint.

Magazine Road has been in existence since at least the late 19th. century, when the Prangin Canal was created. The canal was created by extending the original river inland towards Transfer Road, which now lies to the west of KOMTAR. In the past, the Prangin Canal enabled the transportation of fresh agricultural produce downstream, as well as the upstream distribution of goods from the Port of Penang.

At the time, the area around Magazine Road was a collection of Hokkien villages surrounded by mangrove swamps. Agricultural activities were still possible, however, and the fresh produce was then sent to the adjacent Sia Boey Market and the Prangin Canal.

Magazine Road, George Town, Penang (4)

A row of Straits Eclectic-style terrace houses along Magazine Road undergoing renovations.

Towards the end of the 19th. century, George Town began to expand southwards beyond the Prangin Canal. Magazine Road, immediately south of the canal, was the first of the nine parallel streets that were created to form a new residential quarter known as Chit Tiau Lor ('Seven Streets Precint' in Hokkien). Straits Eclectic-style terrace houses were built between the late 19th. century and the 1930s, catering mostly to the middle-class Chinese.

Magazine Road, George Town, Penang (2)

Hotel Jen, formerly known as Traders Hotel, was initially built as part of the KOMTAR project in the 1980s.

Magazine Road underwent yet another major transformation towards the end of the 20th. century. With the construction of KOMTAR in the 1970s and 1980s, Magazine Road turned into a major thoroughfare in the heart of George Town, lined with high-rises containing administrative, retail and accommodation services. The addition of 1st. Avenue Mall and St. Giles Wembley Hotel in recent years have also added to the bustle of the road.

As of July 2016, a new high-rise named Summit 191 is being constructed just opposite KOMTAR. It also comprises double-storey heritage shophouses at the foot of Summit 191 which are being refurbished. Another row of shophouses near the eastern end of Magazine Road is also being restored at the time of writing.

St. Giles Wembley Hotel, Magazine Road, George Town, Penang

St. Giles Wembley Hotel was opened in 2015.

Meanwhile, the now-abandoned Sia Boey Market has been earmarked for a major rail interchange station to connect the different LRT and monorail lines proposed under the Penang Transport Master Plan.

1st. Avenue Mall (night), George Town, Penang

1st. Avenue Mall

Notable Landmarks

From east to west :

Street Art

Women Construction Workers Mural, Magazine Road, George Town, Penang

Women Construction Workers Mural at Hui Aun Association, Magazine Road.

The Women Construction Workers Murals, which depict Chinese women who worked as construction workers for much of the 19th. century, were painted at the side walls of the Hui Aun Association. It commemorates the contribution, in Penang's construction industry, of female Hokkien workers, many of whom were also members of the association.

Food

  • Bee Hong Coffee Shop

Political Representation

Penang State Government

Western stretch between Magazine Circus and McNair Street

N.28 Komtar State Assemblyman : Teh Lai Heng (Democratic Action Party)

Eastern stretch between McNair Street and Bridge Street

N.27 Pengkalan Kota State Assemblyman : Lau Keng Ee (Democratic Action Party)

Malaysian Federal Parliament

P.049 Tanjong Member of Parliament : Ng Wei Aik (Democratic Action Party)

References

  1. Khoo S.N., 2007. Streets of George Town, Penang. Areca Books.
  2. http://www.penang-traveltips.com/magazine-road.htm
  3. http://wongchunwai.com/category/penang-history-my-story/page/5/
  4. http://www.penangpropertytalk.com/2015/06/summit-191/

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