Old Surabaya G. H. von Faber Photography



As the second biggest city in Indonesia, Surabaya past history is still covered by fog. Surabaya Mayor, Mr. Suparno, at that time (1975), made a decision to make 31 May 1293 as Surabaya’s birthday. That decision is poured into a decree No. 64/WK/75. Since that time, Surabaya’s birthday is always celebrated every May 31st.

Notes about Surabaya became clearer after falling into V.O.C. hand, as the result of the agreement between Paku Buwono II from Mataram and V.O.C. on 11 November 1743. In that agreement, half of the Northern area (including Surabaya) was handed its authority over to V.O.C. Since that time, Surabaya was fully in Dutch control.

Until 1900s, Surabaya city development went on very slowly. There was not any special government institution which took care of the city development. Surabaya’s status was as the capital of Surabaya residency. The central government administration building of Surabaya residency was located in the Western side of Red Bridge. It was this bridge which bordered European settlement (Europeesche Wijk) at that time, which was located in the Western side of the bridge, with settlement of Chinese, Malay, Arabian, and so on (Vremde Oosterlingen), which was located in the Eastern side. Until 1900s, Surabaya city center was located only around the Red Bridge.

After Surabaya was determined as a municipality (Gemeente) in 1905, slowly but sure the city developed to the South. In a short time until 1920s, there were new settlements, like in: Darmo, Gubeng, Sawahan, Ketabang, and so on. In 1926, Surabaya was determined as the capital city of East Java. After that, it keeps growing as the second biggest modern city in Indonesia after Jakarta.

In 1942 until 1945, Surabaya was under Japanese control. During that era of colonization for 3 years, the condition of the city could be said did not progress at all.

After the independence in 1945, Surabaya which is known as a city of patriot, because of the perseverance of its people in defending that independence, keeps developing. From a city which had a status as gemeente, it developed into a big city in 1950s. Then, it finally changes into a municipality.

The city, which main road almost had a shape of ribbon from Wonokromo bridge in the Southern side to Red bridge in the Northern one all along more or less 13 km, by the end of 1980s, started to change totally. The rapid growth of population and urbanization force Surabaya to develop to the Eastern and Western side like we can see nowadays. The increasing number of motorized vehicles, the growth of new industries, and the spread of settlements done by real estate companies, which are located in outskirts of the city, cause not only traffic jam in the middle of the city but also outskirts of the city. Those are Surabaya city development like we can see nowadays. From a small town in the end of the 19th century, it becomes a metropolitan city in the end of the 20th century.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 04 January 2006 )

Oud Soerabaia. De geschiedenis van Indië’s eerste koopstad van de oudste tijden tot de instelling van den Gemeenteraad (1906).


Soerabaia, 1931. Large 4 , decorative & lettered cloth, (vii), 423pp. Numerous text-ills. & figures, plans in text, some tables, sketch-maps, 3 loose coloured folded plans of the city with legenda in end-pocket, depicting the situation in 1825, 1866 & 1906, extensive lists of names (as ‘bijlagen’) of residents, clergymen & citizens. Excellent history of the city of Surabaya from the earliest times up till 1906 & her development as Indonesia’s oldest trade-center, up till the foundation of the municipal council in 1906.

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