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Jalan Sultan, (detail) watercolour by Victor Chin

Jalan Sultan is one of the early streets of Kuala Lumpur. In the 1900s most of the buildings were mainly shophouses, whether single- or double-story. This confluence of the Klang and Gombak Rivers which we now know as Kuala Lumpur soon became the commercial centre of the then-Malaya which was under British rule.

The largest group of residents were the Chinese from China followed by the Indians from India. These groups of workers worked in the tin mines and later, the rubber estates. Many of these migrant workers later set up homes here.

The local Malays were mainly happy in their kampongs but soon many of them became civil servants in the colonial government offices in the towns.  Lumpur is like many of the other Malaysian towns, built mainly on the wealth of the tin and rubber industries which were mostly owned by the European companies, the Sultans and a few local Chinese at one time. Most of the streets in the old business district were built between the two World Wars (1915 and 1945) when Malaya was the world’s largest producer of tin and rubber.

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