This research discusses the factors that pushed and hindered the modernization of the Malays in 1891-1946. The meaning of modernization in this research was an awareness of movement and progress that causes old rules to be challenged and boundaries that have long been well-formed of crossed. This study was conducted using historical methods. The research method used is historical methods which include heuristics, criticism, interpretation and historiography. The results showed that three factors drove the modernization of Malays in Medan: the political agreement with the Netherlands, the success of the foreign plantation business, and change of Medan into Gemeente. Modernization is manifested in the aspects of education, housing, lifestyle and the arts. The development of modernization of the Malays was hampered by the competition between ethnic groups and the social revolution in 1946.