Urban development in KL began here. It was on this square that the house of the Capitan China Yap Ah Loy once stood. All economic, social and politically activity revolved around it. On the river side of the square were rough gambling sheds and in the centre an open market.
In the 1880s, after the death of Yap Ah Loy in 1885, the British administration under Sir Frank Swettenham began "clearing up" the area and the market was moved down the street to the site of Central Market.
Medan Pasar remained the financial hub for KL. Established traders of all ethnics bought land on or near the square and built shop houses. By 1920, the square was surrounded by its stunning Dutch inspired gables 3 storey shop houses and banks. Many of these beautiful buildings are still standing, reflecting the mix of European and Chinese design elements.
A King's Tower (clock tower) was erected at the square in 1937 to commemorate the coronation of King George VI of England. Immediately after Malaysia gained independence from Britain, the tower's plaques which glorified colonialism were removed.
The square has been recently been rebuilt and somewhat rejuvenated from its previous dilapidated and shabby surrounding. Before it was rebuilt, this area was once a busy bus transit point which is dirty and unpleasant to be around. It was really a sad sight at the time and the significance of the square was somewhat forgotten.
The square is still a bustling place, just like its yesteryear especially during the weekend where it somehow transform to some sort of recreational place for the Bangladeshi working here.