Kota Kinabalu turns 12

This year, Kota Kinabalu, the capital of the Sabah state celebrates its 12th anniversary as a city.

As part of KK’s City Day celebration, North Borneo History Enthusiasts (NBHE) is co-organizing with Dewan Bandaraya Kota Kinabalu are hosting a celebration of community, culture and history from February 10 – 12, 2012.

Gaya Street was formed in the early 1900s and was originally known as two streets – ‘Bond Street’ and ‘Dunlop Street’.

Hence, ‘Bonding with Gaya Street’! More than 100 years ago, with only 17 shop houses, Bond Street was the first street to appear in Api-Api, as Jesselton, the former name of Kota Kinabalu was called by the Chinese settlers.  Jesselton was name after Charles Jessel, a key official of the North Borneo Chartered Company.

Kinabalu today

Today, it is expanded into the thriving city we all know as Kota Kinabalu. The newly-opened Hotel Sixty3 on Gaya Street, Kota Kinabalu will be unveiling a Sabah’s biggest graphic mural of the Atkinson Clock Tower for the exhibition to be held in conjunction with the “Bonding with Gaya Street” event.

The 8’ x 48’ graphic mural, depicting KK city’s oldest landmark, the Atkinson Clock Tower will be the highlight of the exhibition that will be placed in the atrium of the hotel.

The mural will be an artwork collage of various old photographs of Jesselton township combined to create an image of the clock tower. It will be the largest graphic bunting ever produced of the 107-year-old historical lock tower that has now become the most important historical marker for the city of Kota Kinabalu.

Atkinson Clock Tower

The Atkinson Clock Tower exhibition will be held at the 1st floor atrium of Hotel Sixty3, located in front of the Sabah Tourism Corporation building on Gaya Street.

The exhibition will be open from 8.30am – 6.30pm as part of the “Bonding with Gaya Street” event.

Early birds visiting the “Atkinson Clock Tower” exhibition will also be able to redeem free cups of coffee sponsored by Cap Kuda Coffee Company at the 1st floor atrium. The coupons will be distributed along Gaya Street during the event.

A coffeetable book titled “Colonial Towns in Sabah: West Coast” by PAM Sabah Chapter will also be on sale at the exhibition featuring 12 colonial townships in Sabah’s West Coast.

The Atkinson Clock Tower exhibition will showcase the importance of tower as KK city’s historic landmark with old photos taken over the past 107 years of its existence by the past and present residents of Kota Kinabalu and then known as Jesselton.

Richard Nelson Sokial

Richard Nelson Sokial, a local heritage advocate who is assisting in the exhibition together with Sabah Museum praised the hotel management for its interest and support in promoting the event.

Sokial is also a member of the “Bonding with Gaya Street” organizing committee under the North Borneo History Enthusiasts (NBHE) group that is aiming to bring the local community together in rediscovering the history of KK city’s early town centered around the activities of Gaya Street – then known as Bond Street.

“The graphic mural of the Atkinson Clock Tower is a huge and generous gesture by Hotel Sixty3 in support of promoting our local history”, he said.

Sokial is confident that with ongoing efforts to create awareness of the importance to preserve heritage in the city, more and more local business establishments are seeing the potential of heritage as a branding and tourism product by supporting the preservation of existing historical structures and their immediate surroundings.

Hotel Sixty3

Lisa Sabrina Ambrose, General Manager of Hotel Sixty3 said that, “the hotel is excited to be involved with a project that is so close to the heart of the Gaya Street community. We hope that this exhibition will encourage the public to learn more about the city, so that when they walk along Gaya Street they can retrace the history of Kota Kinabalu”.

Formerly known as Nosmal Court, the premise of Hotel Sixty3 was renovated and completed early last year and is one of the few examples of architectural readaptation projects in Kota Kinabalu that have mostly kept the character of the original building’s Modernist architecture from the early 1960s.

Apart from rare old photos and information about the Atkinson Clock Tower and heritage preservation efforts, a multimedia presentation will also be shown about the Atkinson Clock Tower as an effort by Sabah’s younger generation to preserve their local history.

In support of the Atkinson Clock Tower exhibition, Hotel Sixty3 will also display its own private collection of old photos taken during North Borneo’s colonial era along its hotel’s corridors.