Air Itam, or Ayer Hitam, owes its name to the murky waters of a river that flowed through the township. Once dubbed the entertainment hub of Penang, Air Itam housed what was thought to be the first zoo in the country: the Penang Zoological Gardens opened its doors to the public in the 1920s, boasting a variety of exotic creatures including lions and tigers. Unfortunately, due to mounting maintenance cost, it was forced to close down just before the Japanese Occupation.
Air Itam in recent times has evolved into a largely suburbanised township populated by people of diverse cultures. Its three main streets are Jalan Air Itam, Jalan Pasar and Jalan Balik Pulau, making up central Air Itam which teems with businesses and local markets, including the famed Air Itam market. Source:
- http://www.thestar.com.my/news/ community/2013/08/17/roaring-times-inold- air-itam/
Air Itam's Demography
Residents of Chinese ethnicity make up 74.28% (13,836) of Air Itam's population. This is closely followed by Indians with 11.86% (2,209) and Malays with 11.11% (2,069).
Air Itam's female population (9,490) slightly outnumbers the male population (9,137) with a difference of 1.9%.
Department of Statistics, Malaysia, 2010.
Note: The above figures have not been adjusted for under-enumeration.
Education within the demarcated study area is aplenty and readily available. In total there are 18 educational institutions. These include a technical institute, six primary and secondary national schools, eight primary and secondary vernacular schools (including SMPC Chung Ling, a private secondary school), two religious schools and a school for children with disabilities.
The township boasts one private children's hospital and five governmental health clinics, including a dental clinic.
There are three post offices within the study area: Ayer Itam Post Office, Bandar Baru Ayer Itam Post Office and Padang Tembak Post Office which handles handover postal services as well.
The Permata Sports Complex and Padang Tembak Community Hall are the two sports complexes found within the study area.
Penang Geographic Information System (Pegis) Centre and author's own calculations.
Note: The study area is based on the postcodes 11400 and 11500, which encompass the Air Itam suburbs.
Air Itam's Retail Space Occupancy
Using data from the Commercial Buildings: Space Availability Report H1 2016, its study on Air Itam's retail space is shared with Relau. As such, their total existing space is 37.24 sq m with an occupancy rate of 71.2%.
All three shopping places solely cater to the purchase of groceries.
There are three fast food outlets: McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut to choose from within the study area.
Source: Commercial Buildings: Space Availability Report H1 2016, Penang Geographic Information Center and author's own calculations.