Central Market

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | C.1888

Photo Credit: Austin Pietrobono

Central Market in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is located at Jalan Hang Kasturi near Petaling Street, where only foot traffic is allowed. Founded in 1888, this Art-Deco building would not adopt its current style until the 1930s.

The original building was constructed by the colonial Chinese Kapitan Yap Ah Loy. It was long used as a wet market frequented by tin miners in the area. The market quickly expanded over the years, and a more permanent building was erected in 1928, with this welcoming frontal facade added in a few years later.

As Kuala Lumpur underwent rapid urban development in the 1970s and ’80s, there were plans to demolish the structure. The Malaysian Heritage Society intervened, however, and declared the market a “heritage site”, saving it from demolition.

This market is organized in rows of stalls, as has been the traditional market setup in Kuala Lumpur since the 1800s. A more modern adaption is the Central Market’s division into sections based on the region each food comes from, with dedicated sections for Malaysian, Chinese and Indian vendors.

Aside from its function as a grocery, the Central Market once housed a cinema that was opened in 2006. Additionally, the Annexe house in the rear of the main building is recognized as one of the most prominent art spaces in the city today, displaying a diverse array of eclectic galleries composed by local artists.

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