River has long been recognized as one of humanity’s most important natural resources. It is one of the most important of all the natural resources necessary to ensure human health and civilization. A close association between cities and water is inherent since the history of civilization and in fact, many urban cities in Malaysia are located close to river areas. The last two decades shown Malaysia has shifted development strategy from agricultural based to industrialization, and manufacturing industries have become the economy’s main source for the country until now. This transformation in 18th century is clearly shown that rapid urbanization, industrial and intensive agricultural activities, as well as wide-spread land development, have contributed to extensive changing of river functions for economy, national development and environment. In particular, river roles are become less significance for human life and river function limited only for transportation purposes only. So, viewed historically, waterfront development in Malaysia have undergone cycles of change over the decades and the latest in this pattern to more public purposes such as recreational and mixed used development. This paper aims to identify a transition of waterfront development in Malaysia from history time to modernization era and it would give a significance contribution for the research is currently on going.