The Development Of Penang’s Chinese Communities And Spatial Histories As Traced From 19th Century Maps

The early maps of Penang provides us certain information with topography and the inter relationship of the place.

Figure 1: Wubei Zhi ( Treatise on Military Preparations ) compiled by Mao Yuanji about 1621.

The earliest name of Penang “Ping-lang-seu” can be found in the reproduced chart based on Zheng He ‘voyages in a printed work entitled Wubei Zhi ( Treatise on Military Preparations ) compiled by Mao Yuanji about 1621.
The Chart of Zheng He Grand Voyages Maritimes is being use during 1405-1433, maps and information were collected before each of Zheng’s voyages.
From here we can estimate, “Ping-lang-seu” in Madarin have been exist since 15th century.
Noted this name is not translated directly from term use in other language such as Pulau, Pulo, Poolo, Pooloo or Penang, Pinang, Peenang, Pinam & Pinaon.

Figure 2 : Captain Walter Alves, Sketch of Po. Pinang in the Strait of Malacca, 1763.
Source: Lim Chong Keat, Penang Views 1770 – 1860, Penang Museum, 1986.

Before Francis Light establish in Penang , Penang aleady well known as produce good quality of drinking water in the Straits of Melaka.
The map drawn by Captain Walter Alves in 1763 shown watering place at north part of the Island and a town already exist in between Dato Kramat and Batu Uban are.

Figure 3 : Captain James Scott, Plan of the Strait Within Poolo Pinangn With Part of the adjacent Coast of Quedah, 1786.
Source: Lim Chong Keat, Penang Views 1770-1860, Penang Museum, 1986.

The more accurate shape of Penang Island is drawn by Captain James Scott of the “Plan of the Strait Within Poolo Pinang with Part of the adjacent Coast of Quedah” in 1786.
James Scott is Francis Light trading partner, later he became one of the major land owner on the Island through his relationship with Light.

Figure 4 : Capt. Home Briggs Popham, Plan of Fort Cornwallis with the town on the East Coast of the Island, 1798.
Source: Lim Chong Keat, Penang Views 1770-1860, Penang Museum, 1986.

Penang had its hostorical inception with the East India Company settlement established on 11th August 1786 when the Island was then named Prince of Wales Island and called the settlemant he landed as George Town.
George Town is bounded by Light Street, Beach Street, Pitt Street and Chulier Street, land in between is divided into rectangular grid intersection with each others.
One of the street named ” China Street ” ( later day changed to Penang Street ). The plan surveyed by ) Capt. Home Briggs Popham in 1786 give a clear extent of George Town.
Basically, land along the side of Fort Cornwallis to the North of Light Street are occupied by Colonist, while others are settled inside the grid partten.
A Malay Town and Mosque, Tomb as well as Chulier Mosque are located at the South of Chulier Street.
The historical burial ground had already laid out on the West of ” Pinang ” Road , and between the George Town area are mainly ” paddy ” fields and swamps.

Figure 5 : Sir George Leith, Plan of Georgetown (Pinang) in 1803.
Source: Sir George Leith, Short Account of Prince of Wales Island, 1804.

Plan of Georgetown (Pinang) in 1803 by Sir George Leith have marked more land being sudivied and buildings built.
Kong Hock Keong, prayed by both Cantonese & Hokkien community are marked as “Ghines Church”.
To be noted is the location of Kong Hock Keong doest not face to China Sreet as what present show. Furthermore, China Street as the main street of Chinese Community did not show much buildings exist or land divided yet.
By comparision, King Street and Penang Street already have more clearer land being subdivided relative to the present location of various Chinese Associations and Temples.

Figure 6 : A Plan of George Town, Prince of Wales Island, with Pitt Street Prolonged to the Prangin River and widened to 120 feet (1814-1820 ).
Source: Penang State Library.

This map neither show information of surveyor nor period of survey, but from the footnote know that is the record of big fire occurred during 1812-1814 in the George Town area.
Caused of the fire on the large area due to the common use of attap roof in timber houses.
The committee of Assessors was instructed to break the row of attap-roofed houses by a fitty-foot gap in every two hundred feet, to widen the main roads and sink new wells.

Figure 7 : Lieutenant T. Woore, The Anchorage Enlarged; forming part of the map of Penang or Prince of Wales Island, 1832.
Source: Lim Chong Keat, Penang Views 1770 – 1860, Penang Museum, 1986.

In the 1832 map shown more complete roads system and growth of outskirt of George Town area, along the North beach where the land occupied by colonist seem to be more bungalows built.

Figure 8 : Map of George Town (1820 -1851).
Source : Penang State Library

Map of George Town probably drawn in between 1820-1851, illustrate the lands hold by Chinese Kongsee and shown also Kong Hock Keong, Kapitan Keling Mosque and Acheen Street Mosque.
A. Ghee Hin Kongsee
B. Heong San Kongsee
C. See Nian Kongsee
D. Chiu Chee Kongsee
E. Ho Hap Seah Kongsee
F. Ho Seng Kongsee
G. Tan Sing Ong Kongsee
H. Tua Pek Kong Kongsee
I. Tsong Ching Hua Kongsee
J. Cheah Kongsee
K. Khoo Kongsee
From way the Colonist called all the Chinese Association, Temple as Kongsees to treat them as secret society, and the map show the territory and coverage of the difference Chinese group.

Figure 9 : Plan of George Town, Prince of Wales Island, 1877.
Source: Penang State Library

Plan of George Town in 1877 shown more comprehensive in term of drawing scale, city boundary, outline of the buildings, roads and passages, canal, ditches and rivers.
George Town expand to Northam Road on the North part and connect Larut Road and Burmah Road, on the East side extend to Anson Road link to Seang Tek Road and Dato Kramat Road, to the South is Jelutong Road , Bridge Road and up to Penang River.
The layout of Kong Hock Keong almost the same as what exist today, but Lee Kongsee is replaced by row of shop houses.
At the King Street are Chang Long Kongsee, Kah Eng Chew Kongsee , Heong San Kongsee , Chinese Temple , Sing Heng Kongsee and Song See Kongsee.
Further down are Ho Seng Kongsee near to the present Poh Hock Seah, on the Market Sreet. Is Tan Sin Heng Kongsee. .
At the Church Street are Ghee Hin Kongsee and Oon Fock Tong Kongsee.
Teo Chew Hoay Kuan facing the Queen Street until today.
The layout of Cheah Kongsee at the Armenian Lane ( now is Armenian Street ) already exist together with Lim Kongsi although without name.
The enclave of Khoo Kongsi is very clear similar to present except the passage ways are even much smaller , but without the name and layout of the building.
At the Prangin Lane are Fee Chew Kongsee & Chong Fu Kongsee.

Figure 10 : Survey map of George Town, survey by Superintentendet Revenue Survey,F.W.Kelly F.R.G.S.
Source: The Penang Survey Department Archive.

The most detail map of George Town are the survey map by Superintentendet Revenue Survey, F.W.Kelly F.R.G.S during the period in 1891-1893, it includes all the buildings in the area.
Boundary of George Town similar to the 1877 map, except reclamation land in Weld Quay and various jettys including Clan Jettys, the density of buildings in the old town area already high, and development growth to seven street precinct.
The Public Facilities have reach to as need for George Town as the trading ports in the region.