29 Aug 2015: George Town’s Historic Commercial & Civic Precincts

This guide updates the built heritage of George Town’s multicultural commercial and civil precincts at a crucial juncture where its unique identity is under threat from development. It aims to assist visitors to better understand and enjoy many of the remaining buildings which comprise George Town’s historic legacy.

precincts-1History buffs will be delighted that there is a new book discussing the past and present of the architectural and social heritage of George Town. For a subject that has been frequently written about, over the years from various perspectives, there is bound to be a negligible degree of repetition and overlap. Rest assured that the similarities are more often perceived than actual, and each book occupies a niche of its own. When discussing the 200-year old history of George Town, the immediate questions which come to mind are who left the imprints and what are their stories? Delving into the historical past of 75 prominent commercial and civic sites, George Town’s Historic Commercial & Civic Precinctsreveals the stories of those individuals, families, corporations and institutions involved. Some have since passed into history; others have grown in strength and some are still very much relevant today.

According to author Marcus Langdon, George Town’s Historic Commercial & Civic Precincts covers the stories of just a few people whose endeavours left a legacy for us to discover, and the events surrounding the development of George Town. It is inevitable that in choosing which stories to include, many deserving ones are left out. Many of the early structures left behind still stand, though many others with rich histories have been lost to time. Some sites have therefore been included for the stories they hold, rather than for the current building.”

This new book ‘updates’ the built heritage area of George Town and distills the very essence of the city’s multicultural commercial and civil precincts at a crucial juncture where its unique identity is under threat of effacement or transformation by the rapid pace of development. Involving a legacy spanning over two centuries, the buildings which remain today are nothing less than the tangible legacies of those who preceded us. The development of George Town’s historic commercial and civic precincts occurred under two distinct administrative phases: 1) under the British East India Company (EIC) (1786–1858) and 2) under British Crown rule which lasted until just after the Japanese Occupation (1941–1945).

Spread over the book’s contents are brief, but detailed outlines of some of the prominent architects and architectural firms of the period accompanied by over 280 vintage and contemporary reproductions of maps, photographs, postcards, and advertisements of the buildings, streets and business establishments located in the designated heritage zone.