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Market Street, George Town, Penang

Market Street, George Town

Market Street, within George Town's UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a street within the city's Little India. It runs straight from northwest to southeast between Pitt Street and Beach Street.

Market Street sign, George Town, Penang

A bilingual Market Street sign

Named after a nearby market, the street has been in existence since the early 19th. century. It is still bustling today with shops and businesses owned by ethnic Tamils. Hindus predominate the street, while Indian Muslims also operate businesses around its vicinity.

Etymology

Market Street was named after one of the original markets of George Town, which was located along the then-adjacent eastern shores of the settlement. It should be noted that, at the time, the eastern shores of George Town ran along the length of Beach Street.

The Tamils, who have been populating the street from the onset, called it Kadai Teru, meaning the 'Street of Shops'. During the colonial era, the British also called the street Chola Place or Little Madras.

More recently, Market Street has been regarded as part of George Town's Little India.

Old map of George Town, Penang

The 1798 Popham map of George Town, which included Market Street within the original grid of the settlement.

History

Market Street has been in existence since at least the early 19th. century; it appeared in Captain Francis Light's original grid of the settlement.

In the past, there was a market located at the seaside just east of Market Street. The market has since been wiped out, while the eastern shorelines of George Town were expanded eastwards due to land reclamations in the late 19th. century. As a result of the land reclamations, Market Street Ghaut, an extension of Market Street, was also created.

Market Street, George Town, Penang (2)

Market Street is now part of George Town's Little India. Its strongly Indian character is still prevalent to this day.

To this day, ethnic Tamils have been populating Market Street and establishing shops along it. One can find various small businesses selling anything from incense to sarees and portraits of Bollywood stars. The colourful decorations and blaring Bollywood music also create an atmosphere akin to that of Indian cities like Mumbai and Chennai.

Most Tamils here are Hindus, while Indian Muslims also operate shops and restaurants around the vicinity of Market Street.

After World War 2, some of the single-storey shophouses along Market Street were rebuilt using salvaged bricks from the destroyed St. Xavier's Institution, which was bombed by Allied bomber aircraft during the war.

Since the late 20th. century, Market Street has been regarded as part of George Town's Little India, in recognition of its long-lasting Indian character.

Political Representation

Penang State Government

N.26 Padang Kota State Assemblyman : Chow Kon Yeow (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/market-street.htm

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