The Esplanade (GPS: 5.4222, 100.34193) of Penang refers to the waterfront area on the northern coast of George Town facing Light Street. It is the sight of Francis Light's Landing in Penang in 1786. It was also the first area on the island cleared by Light.
In keeping with the format of British civic areas, the Esplanade area has a parade, similar to the Padang in Singapore and the Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. The parade ground is today known as Padang Kota Lama, or "old fort field", in reference to Fort Cornwallis. Indeed, the whole Esplanade area is also known as Padang Kota Lama, after the field.
Some of the structures on the field have long gone. Among them, there was the Municipal Band Stand where Speaker's Square is located today. In proximity to the Chinese Chamber of Commerce Building across Light Street was the Vermont Monument, now also just a memory.
On either sides of Padang Kota Lama were the clubhouses of the Penang Sports Club, then located at Esplanade itself, and the Penang Recreation Club. They were destroyed during the Second World War.
The Bunga Tanjong Tree planted by Emperor Akihito of Japan, when he was crown prince (7 May, 2010)
The road linking Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah, in front of City Hall and Town Hall, is now called Jalan Padang Kota Lama. It was laid originally known as Esplanade Road.
At the junction of Esplanade Road with Light Street is the fountain donated by local 19th century millionnaire, Koh Seang Tat. The fountain is known today as the Municipal Fountain or Koh Seang Tat's Fountain.
Running parallel to Jalan Padang Kota Lama is Duke Street. It was the road leading towards Koh Seang Tat's mansion, which he called Edinburgh House, to commemorate its most imminent resident, the visiting Duke of Edinburgh, who lodged there in 1869. The mansion has long been pulled down.
The creation of Jalan Tun Syed Sheh Barakbah extended the former Esplanade to exit parallel to Green Hall. More recent structures added to this part of the Esplanade includes Dewan Sri Penang in the 70's, and the court complex in the first decade of the new millennium. Relocated to the junction facing the Supreme Court building is Logan Memorial.
Today the Esplanade continues to play an important part in Penang. It is the venue for many celebrations such as the anniversaries of George Town UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bon Odori Festival, and others.
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