06 Oct This street houses a few secrets of its own
Leith Street, off Farquhar Street, lies within the buffer zone of George Town’s historic Heritage Zone. This street has comparatively lesser attractions than some of George Town’s more famous roads like Campbell Street or Armenian Street, but it houses a few secrets to make any visitor’s trip there a little more worthwhile.
The street was named after George Alexander William Leith who served as Lieutenant-Governor of Penang from 1800 – 1803. During his tenure, he managed to snag a piece of land from the Kedah sultanate across that strait; that piece of land became Province Wellesley, or what is now known as Seberang Perai, the mainland portion of the entire Penang state. The street was inhabited by Indian immigrants – notably from northern India, as indicated by the Benggali Mosque located on the street, as well as the renowned Kashmir Restaurant nearby.
The street was once renowned as an enclave for rich Hakka tycoons, such as Tye Kee Yoon and Cheong Fatt Tze, the latter of which has his past residence now restored to its glory in its second life as a tourist attraction and boutique hotel-cum-restaurant. The world-famous shoemaker Jimmy Choo had his start at one cobbler store on this street, showing just how humble his beginnings were.
Today, the street houses a few medium-priced hotels such as the Modern, Oriental and Waldorf Hotels, as well as the Leong Fee Mansion which now houses the Equator Academy of Art. Street art can also be seen on the street, most notably a steel-rod sculpture of Jimmy Choo at his past workplace. A chocolatier, The Chocolate Boutique, is also located here; as is a food court, the Red Garden Food Paradise, which is packed with sumptuous local cuisine.
If one were to wander into this street by accident after exploring Penang Road, Muntri Street and/or Chulia Street, they’ll discover the hidden secrets this place has to offer, including pivotal landmarks that showcase Penang’s heritage – past, present and future – in all its glory.