KOTA KINABALU -- Jesselton, the one-time "ghost town" which has evolved into the present-day vibrant city of Kota Kinabalu, evokes pleasant memories in the people of Sabah.
Founded by the British North Borneo Company by accident after its administration centre on Gaya Island was flattened in a fire, Jesselton became the worthy third capital of North Borneo in 1946 after Sandakan and Kudat.
Located on a narrow strip of land with hills on one side and the sea on the other, the town was named Api-Api (Fire-Fire) apparently in view of the Gaya Island fire.
It was renamed Jesselton later, taking on the name of Sir Charles Jessel, the then deputy manager of the British North Borneo Company.
Historic landmarks that developed in Jesselton have survived to this day, among them the Jesselton Hotel, the Customs building, Hongkong and Shanghai Bank, Chartered Bank, the Kota Kinabalu community hall, the Capital Cinema, the Sabah Tourism building and the railway service.
These landmarks had been in existence before North Borneo joined the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16 1963 and came to be known as Sabah.
Old timer Abdullah Hussin is able to recall vividly the "great life" he enjoyed in those days.
"I still remember, in the early 1950's, we used to hang out with friends of different races - Malays, Kadazandusun, Chinese - and play snooker in Jesselton. Sometimes, we go to 'aramati' (a party) together.
Continue reading at: Jesselton, Sabah's 'Mother Of Evolution'