McNair Street, within the George Town city centre, cuts through the heart of the city's Seven Streets Precint (chit tiau lor in Penang Hokkien). As the backbone of the precint, it connects Magazine Road to the north with Sandilands Street to the south, as well as seven other streets in between.
The street was named after a distinguished British civil servant who was the acting Lieutenant-Governor of Penang in the late 19th. century. By the early 20th. century, the area was developed as an urban residential area, catering mostly to ethnic Chinese.
To this day, McNair Street is lined with Straits Chinese Eclectic-style houses. On the other hand, a relatively modern form of urbanisation has taken root at the northern end of the street, with the completion of 1st. Avenue Mall just opposite the junction with Magazine Road.
McNair Street was named after Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair (1828 - 1910), a British who served as the acting Lieutenant-Governor of the Straits Settlement of Penang between 1880 and 1884.
Having joined the British Army in 1845, McNair was posted to Madras, where he picked up Hindustani. In 1857, he became the Executive Engineer and Superintendant of Convicts in the Straits Settlements and was tasked with supervising public works projects in Singapore, Penang and Malacca.
While in Singapore, McNair took over the responsibility for St. Andrew's Cathedral. In addition, he built a number of important colonial landmarks in Singapore, such as the Empress Place building (now the Asian Civilisations Museum), Singapore's General Hospital and the Istana. Notably, the Istana now serves as the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore.
During his term as the acting Lieutenant-Governor of Penang, McNair improved Penang's sanitation and damage facilities, before retiring in 1884 due to fatigue.
McNair Street has been in existence since at least the early 20th. century. At the time, this street, which bisected the middle of George Town's Seven Streets Precint (chit tiau lor in Penang Hokkien), was being developed as part of an urban residential area. Double-storey Straits Chinese Eclectic-style houses were built within the precint, catering mostly to the middle-class Chinese.
Further down the street lies the Cecil Street Market, a wet market-cum-hawker centre. It is notable for the wide variety of Penang's street food on offer; it is highly recommended for visitors within the Seven Streets Precint.
Penang State Government
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)