Roads as Spine For Connectivity and City Expansion

Main roads and corridors have been playing a vital role in Jakarta since Dutch colonialism. The map suggested that with highways and boulevards, there has been a clear, distinguishable pattern of those who benefitted from affluent flows of commodities, community and information, and those who are not (hinterland). Goods movement and connectivity with global trade networks are integral features in Jakarta since it is a city of trade, helped with the construction of boulevards and road corridors, which acts as a spine for both connectivity and land use expansion. These corridors include Dutch’s 18th-century canals, railways development in the 19th century, construction of toll road in the 20th century, and recently, the development of ring roads that connects the city with its surrounding areas.

These patterns of using the spine and corridors as the primary connectivity for global trade and city development and expansion are retained through the period of post-independence and beyond. This is also reflected by how the city planning of Jakarta has been more focused on building roads for private transportation rather than building public transit or mass rapid as its priority.

In the 1950-1960s, Soekarno, who is Indonesian’s first president and also trained as a civil engineer and architect, was developing boulevards and arterial roads to create an ideal society to revitalize and build a new modern capital out of colonialism. Road development and land expansion were integral as part of Indonesia’s modernization and not only Jakarta, but the pattern can be seen throughout the development of Java Island and beyond.

However, the rapid growth of Jakarta road network and transportation development since the 1940s has been dominated by arterial roads and boulevards were enjoyed more by the elites and economic routes, market flows, and global trade rather than for the people and city’s inhabitant themselves. It was more of a top-down approach planning that neglects the placemaking for social spaces and community but only focuses on the flow of space.


Lo, Ria Hutabarat. “The City as a Mirror: Transport, Land Use and Social Change in Jakarta.” Urban Studies 47, no. 3 (May 2009): 529–55.


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