indepth

Roads in KL that bear generations of narratives

Looking at Kuala Lumpur today, it’s hard to imagine the pulsating city was once just a tin mining settlement. However, like the Yellow Meranti dipterocarp tree, which, from a small seed can grow to an amazing height of 100.8m with a 40m-diameter canopy, the humble commune named as a “muddy confluence” has grown exponentially to a world-class metropolitan today.

Along with the progress, a wide network of infrastructure and roads has been built, some dating more than a century old. If they had voices, these thoroughfares would probably have a thousand tales to tell on the history and changing face of the country’s capital city.

Jalan Ampang

Jalan Ampang has come a long way from a simple laterite road to a grand stretch that hosts KL’s most deluxe properties. Spanning 10km, the prime avenue crosses from Selangor’s part of Ampang all the way to the old KL area as it follows the trail of Sungai Gombak to function as one of the major arteries in the heart of the country’s city centre.

With much attention centred on its more affluent section, you many not have noticed that you can actually get a live view of the story of KL’s development if you drove from the old KL segment all the way to the Selangor part of Jalan Ampang. What you would see is a transition from old heritage buildings to rows of imposing embassies to the epicentre of KL that exhibits the prominent skyscrapers of Petronas Twin Towers and KL Tower. Then, entering the state of Selangor, the Jalan Ampang view changes again to a more suburban view with its communities of present day dwellers.

Jalan Ipoh

If you are wondering why a road in KL is named after a town in the state of Perak, well, there is no spectacular story behind it. It was so named simply because it was the only road that led to Ipoh town from KL. While maintaining its straightforward name to this day, part of the stretches from the Jalan Segambut junction to the Jalan Pahang junction has been renamed Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah.

Jalan Ipoh is today an interesting sight as the KL city centre skyscrapers loom behind against the construction of the developing MRT (Mass Rapid Transit) line in the area. Along with the upcoming modern transportation system, a changing tide is sweeping through the blend of old shophouses and new edifices that mark Jalan Ipoh.

Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra

A recent visit by EdgeProp.my shows Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra to be much quieter than the other parts of KL city. The few landmarks that can be found here are the Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and the Police Training Centre (PULAPOL), which has stood at the same site since its relocation in the 1940s from Bukit Aman.

Jalan Sultan Yahya Petra earned its name after two renaming exercises over the past decades. It was formerly named after Sir Henry Gurney, who was the high commissioner in the Federation of Malaya before he was assassinated during the Malayan Emergency. However, traces of its original name still remain, such as Lorong Gurney, which leads to the Alliance Francaise School.

In 1988, Jalan Henry Gurney was renamed Jalan Semarak, inspired from former prime minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s 1988 Semarak campaign that had taken place in that venue.

From 2014, it has donned its current name, which is in honour of the sixth Yang di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia, whose tenure was from 1975 to 1979.

Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar

This highway also went through a renaming exercise in 2014 when DBKL changed its name from Lebuhraya Mahameru to its current name of Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar, after the country’s eighth King.

Before Lebuhraya Mahameru got its name, it was formerly known as Swettenham Driveway, after Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham, who was the first resident general of the Federated Malay States.

The major highway leads up from KL Middle Ring Road 1, which connects to Jalan Tun Razak, Jalan Duta and Jalan Damansara. It is reported that the MRR1 has existed since the British administration rule.

In its present times, this stretch of highway passes by the exclusive neighbourhood of Bukit Tunku and Taman Duta, with Taman Tugu and the Perdana Botanical Gardens on the opposite side of the road. The Parliament House is also within the vicinity as well.    

This story first appeared in the EdgeProp.my E-weekly on Sept 24, 2021. You can access back issues here.

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