My Tanjong Pagar Heritage Tour

Tour Info

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Every third Saturday and Sunday of the month
8:30am to 11:30pm (approximately). Please arrive at 8:15am, 15mins before the start time for registration.
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Tanjong Pagar MRT Station Exit A
Tanjong Pagar Plaza
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Difficulty Level


  • Expect three hours of walking
  • It is compulsory for a parent/guardian to accompany any child of or under the age of 12.
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What should I bring
  • Wear suitable shoes and comfortable clothes that covers your shoulders and knees (as we will be entering places of worship).
  • Bring along hand sanitizer, insect repellant, a bottle of water, and an umbrella.
  • If you have earphones with a standard 3.5mm audio jack, please bring them along (for radio guides during the tour).
  • Asthmatic individuals are encouraged to bring their inhaler.


My Tanjong Pagar Heritage Tour takes participants down memory lane by exploring different sites that have brought Singapore from its humble beginnings as a fishing village, to becoming one of the most developed countries in the world. As participants retrace the steps of immigrants who arrived here during colonial times, expect to discover how these key landmarks were essential pieces that contributed to Singapore’s success as a port and its growth to a first world nation.

Site 1: Seng Wong Beo Temple

Founded in 1898, the Seng Wong Beo Temple is one of the oldest City God temples in Singapore. It is dedicated to the most senior City God found in Singapore, the Provincial City God or Wei Ling Gong.

According to Chinese tradition, the City Gods as protectors of territories are relied upon by residents for communal concerns such as rain, natural disasters and crises, or even personal concerns like recovering from illnesses. Sometimes, residents who are accused of crimes may also call upon the City God to provide a sign that could help prove their innocence.

The Temple was founded by Reverend Swee Oi and Khoo Seok Wan, a pair of good friends who are said to have bonded over their love for poetry and art. Reverend Swee Oi was an abbot at the Hong San See Temple, and also an imperial scholar during the Qing Dynasty while Khoo Seok Wan was a literary scholar.

The Seng Wong Beo Temple played an important role in easing the hardships of the early Chinese settlers from China who mainly settled in Tanjong Pagar and Telok Ayer. Apart from their hard work as labourers, they also commonly fell ill, felt lonely and were home-sick. Hence, the temple was built so that the Chinese community could worship and pray for the well-being of their loved ones back home in China.

Apart from its elements of traditional Chinese architecture, the temple is unique for its combination of elements from both Buddhist and Taoist worship under one roof. While the Provincial City God is the main diety housed in the temple, other deities such as the White Tiger General, Yama King, and Azure Dragon are also worshipped within the temple. The temple also houses some ancestral tablets. You might also be able to spot Reverend Swee Oi’s ancestral tablet that is also housed within the temple!

The Seng Wong Beo Temple was also known at one time to be one of the few temples in Singapore conducting ghost marriages. Although the ritual is shrouded in mystery, the temple was known to have conducted the mysterious ritual for over a hundred years, although they have since ceased to conduct this ritual. Within the temple, you will also spot an ancient banyan tree that is said to have been there for more than 100 years. It is speculated that Khoo and Swee had lively conversations about poetry and art under the tree. The temple grounds were eventually requisitioned by the Singapore government in 1985.

Site 2: Hock Teck See Temple

The Hock Teck See Temple, also known as Fook Tet Soo Khek Temple, is believed to be the oldest Hakka temple in Singapore today. While the present temple was said to be built in 1844, it is believed to have existed since 1819. The temple worships the Tua Pek Kong diety.

The Hock Teck See Temple is a landmark key to the formation of the early Hakka community’s identity. The temple was founded by the Hakka community as a communal temple for all Hakkas, irrespective of birth places in China, which is an unusual trait for early Chinese temples. Hence the temple is widely regarded to be the first Hakka building that promoted a collective Hakka identity transcending village, district and provincial ties.

The temple has undergone two major renovations to date: once in 1861 and once in the 1970s. The 1861 renovation was funded by the collective donations from pawnshops, Chinese medical halls and associations, a testament to the unity of the Chinese community. However, during the Japanese Occupation, part of the temple was destroyed by the war. Bearing the effects of war and age, the temple was rejuvenated in the 1970s for $36,000.

The Hock Teck See temple boasts an interesting combination of architectural features. Despite being a Hakka temple, Teochew craftsmen were supposedly involved in the construction of the temple. The decorative style of the temple’s roof which includes images of the phoenix and elephants are more reminiscent of the Teochew region. You may also spot a slight luminescence at the end of the roof ridges, which is caused by the cockle shells used to decorate the Juan Cao Wen (卷草纹) or plant-scrolls. In fact, this may be the only example of such an ornament in Singapore!

An archaeological initiative of the temple’s compounds and its surrounding areas saw the discovery of items such as 19th and 20th century ceramics and glassware, as well as WWII artefacts left behind by the Japanese and the British. Today, the Hock Teck See temple is managed by its Trustees under the monthly Temporary Occupation Licence.

Site 3: Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh and Keramat Habib Noh

The Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh and Keramat Habib Noh is one of the oldest mosques in the Tanjong Pagar vicinity and holds the tomb of one of the most venerated members of Singapore’s Muslim community.

The Keramat Habib Noh is built over the Habib Noh’s tomb at where was formerly the food of a hillock near Mount Palmer. Habib Noh was a man of high stature during his time, possessing a great measure of religious knowledge and conducting several good works for the community such as helping the poor with food and shelter. He was also believed to have performed many miracles and to have supernatural powers that transported himself anywhere and allowed him to be in two places at the same time. Upon his death, Habib Noh’s coffin was placed at the present site of the Keramat Habib Noh, as it was his wish to be buried in this location where he often meditated. The tomb was refurbished in 1890 by Syed Mohamad bin Ahmad Alsagoff and steps were later added.

The Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh was founded by Haji Muhammad Salleh, an intimate friend of Habib Noh, in 1903. In order to accommodate the Keramat Habib Noh’s large number of visitors, Haji Muhammad Salleh demolished the surau (praying area) facing the tomb and built the present mosque in its place.

The mosque emerged unscathed from a couple of events – WWII and the construction of the East Coast Parkway (ECP). Although bombs were dropped in the vicinity of the temple during WWII, the mosque was not damaged. Also, you might have noticed that the ECP curves strangely around the Masjid and Keramat. It is said that plans to demolish the Keramat for the construction of ECP were derailed. Apparently, bulldozers meant to demolish the Keramat could not operate properly, which led to the curvature of the Parkway around the Masjid and Keramat.

The mosque’s architecture presents a blend of European and Middle Eastern influences, a testament to the time it was built in. You may spot six mock Corinthian columns framing the main prayer hall, which are derived from European classical architectural influences. Middle Eastern architecture features in its distinct onion-shaped dome and pinnacles on the roof.

Today, both the Keramat Habib Noh and the Masjid Haji Muhammad Salleh have become more or less part of the same compound. Many visitors and supplicators visit the tomb offering trays of food such as pulut kuning (yellow glutinous rice), briyani rice, eggs or bananas. The mosque is also home to many events related to the late Habib Noh and the Maulid, a kind of remembrance and praying for the Prophet Muhammad.

Site 4: Tanjong Pagar Docks Company

The Tanjong Pagar Docks Company is the forerunner of today’s Singapore Harbour Board, Port of Singapore Authority and Maritime Port Authority of Singapore. It has had a major contribution to Singapore’s growth and success as a port.

The Tanjong Pagar Docks Company was jointly set up in 1864 by Guthrie & Co and Tan Kim Ching. It was established amidst the development of the New Harbour port. Before the 1860s, almost all trade was conducted at Boat Quay, but the popularity of Boat Quay also led to an increase in shipping traffic congestion. Anticipating the need for better facilities, shipping companies began to build wharves at the New Harbour in the late 1850s, one of which was the Tanjong Pagar Docks Company.

The Tanjong Pagar Docks Company saw immense success in its wharves at the New Harbour. This was as New Harbour port was gaining popularity as the deep waters which were close to shore made it easier to load and unload cargo. Profits earned from its wharves were enough to fund the expansion of the Company. By 1905, the Company owned wharves up to 6,659 feet long (2,030m), and had built 2 docks at the New Harbour (Victoria Dock and Albert Dock). Hence, the Company formed the core of the livelihood of residents in Tanjong Pagar, as many of those residing at Tanjong Pagar worked in the port in various roles such as being coal coolies.

The Company also proved instrumental in cementing Singapore’s place as one of the largest coaling stations in the world in the 19th to early 20th century. It catered coal to 400 different customers at one time, storing each coal pile separately in either wood and attap sheds, or out in the open. However, this also led to a disastrous fire that broke out in the company’s premises April 1877. Up to 2 acres of land and buildings within the land were destroyed by the flames in just 15 minutes.

By 1899, it controlled virtually the entire shipping business after its amalgamation with the New Harbour Dock Company. However, the quick and immense success of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company also proved to be its crutch. The Company did not have enough funds to conduct improvement works on its wide range of facilities, which led to the Government of the Straits Settlements taking over the management of the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company. In 1905, the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was transformed into a publicly-owned Tanjong Pagar Dock Board, which was later established as the Singapore Harbour Board in 1913.

Site 5: Former Singapore Polytechnic

Singapore Polytechnic was the first polytechnic in Singapore that was established as a result of the rapid industrialization program in the 1950s and 1960s. Before its present location at Dover, Singapore Polytechnic was first established on 27 October 1954 at Prince Edward Road.

The Singapore Polytechnic was not only Singapore’s first technical institution, but also the first institution to provide technical education in Southeast Asia. It provided studies, research, and training in technology to a pool of technicians for Singapore’s developing economy in the 1950s. By 1958, Singapore Polytechnic had already enrolled over 2800 students across 58 courses in five different departments: Engineering, Building and Architecture, Science and Technology, General Education and Commerce. By 1961, the first graduation ceremony for professional diploma students was held.

The growing student population led to the expansion of the campus site at two different locations – Ayer Rajah Road and Dover Road (its present site). Unfortunately, the ultimate decision for the polytechnic to permanently shift to its Dover site was met with much disagreements from the student population. Several students from the polytechnic staged protests against the gradual transfers of the department to the new Dover campus. Some students even boycotted classes at the Dover campus.

As the polytechnic gradually shifted to the Dover campus, its former location at today’s Bestway Building became occupied by the Labour Ministry’s Employment Service and the Research and Statistics Department in 1978. In the mid 1990s, the building even housed Mediacorp TV12 (formerly Singapore Television Twelve). Today, you might notice that the building is vacant. In its place will be the future Prince Edward MRT Station that is expected to be completed in 2025.

Site 6: MAS Building

MAS was instrumental in Singapore’s nation building years by acting as Singapore’s Central Bank and the financial agent of the Government. Established in 1971, it spurred the growth of Singapore’s economy by ensuring monetary stability and promoting conducive credit and exchange policies.

Prior to the establishment of MAS, various monetary functions associated with a central bank were performed by several government departments and agencies. With the growth of Singapore, there was an increasing need to streamline the complex banking and monetary environment. Hence, in 1970, Parliament passed the Monetary Authority of Singapore Act that eventually led to the establishment of MAS in 1971. The MAS Act was important in giving MAS the authority to regulate the financial services in Singapore key to its economic growth.

However, teething problems and concerns regarding the MAS soon emerged after its establishment. Singaporeans were uncertain over how a Central Bank would affect their lives as MAS was the first in Singapore’s history. Other smaller financial institutions such as the banks also voiced their concerns.

The MAS played an instrumental role in bringing Singapore out of the economic crisis during the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis. With the heightened volatility of the foreign exchange market, the Singapore dollar exchange rate fluctuated tremendously. MAS eased its exchange rate policy to cushion the rapidly decelerating economy from the impact of the regional recession. Singapore was able to weather the financial crisis due to the strong economic and financial foundation, as well as economic measures taken during the crisis.

By 1984, the MAS has also taken on the roles of regulating the insurance industry and the regulatory functions under the Securities Industry Act (1973). Today, MAS administers statutes related to money, banking, insurance, securities and the financial sector. MAS is also in charge of currency issuance, after its merger with the Board of Commissioners of Currency in 2002.

You will be able to learn more about the MAS roles in Singapore’s economy through its heritage gallery! Expect to see interesting currency notes Singapore has used throughout the decades.

Site 7: Singapore Conference Hall and Trade Union House

Formerly known as the Conference Hall & Trade Union House, the Singapore Conference Hall served as the headquarters of the National Trade Union Congress (NTUC) between 1965 to 2000. It was also the site of many significant events in Singapore’s history where it hosted several important national and international events. This includes the first Commonwealth Heads of Government conference outside London, the 1969 state banquet, the 1979 launch of the inaugural Speak Mandarin Campaign, as well as National Day Award ceremonies and the National Day rally speeches.

The Singapore Conference Hall was conceived at the dawn of the post-colonial era and completed in the year of Singapore’s independence. During the 1959 general election, the People’s Action Party (PAP) proposed to unify the trade union movement and to build a headquarters for the union. Its present site at Shenton Way was chosen in May 1961.

As the first modern building on Shenton Way, the Singapore Conference Hall embodied Singapore’s urban architecture in the 1960s and was one of the earliest buildings in Singapore to portray distinctive Malayan features. The interior of the building is designed according to Singapore’s tropical climate, where the cantilevered roof, terrace and the natural ventilation system keeps the interior cool. The concrete, glass and steel construction of the Singapore Conference Hall comes together to ­convey the qualities of honesty and austerity. Complementing the modern elements of the exterior also include traditional elements of Malayan craft. For example, you may be able to identify mengkuang mat patterns that are reflected in the glass mosaic, or even an oil mural of ku-ku figures.

In 2001, the Singapore Conference Hall was reappropriated as the home of the Singapore Chinese Orchestra. In 2010, the building also became the first structure built in Singapore’s post-colonial period to be gazetted as a national monument, preserving its legacy in Singapore’s history.

Site 8: Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC)

The Singapore Chinese Cultural Centre (SCCC), established in 2017, marks a milestone in Singapore’s multiracialism. Apart from promoting Chinese culture and the arts, the SCCC also serves as a hub for high quality performances, exhibitions, and cultural activities. It aims to celebrate our shared culture, strengthen the bond between all groups, and to be an inclusive platform for all Singaporeans.

In 1965, the idea of establishing a Chinese cultural centre was non-existent due to the tense race relations then. Today, while Singapore’s racial composition and geopolitical realities remain, the different races in Singapore have the confidence to express and promote their ethnic identities. For example, we have the Malay Heritage Centre and Indian Heritage Centre located in Kampong Glam and Little India respectively.

The idea of setting up the SCCC was first proposed in 2012 by Mr Chua Thian Poh, then-Chairman of the Singapore Federation of Chinese Clan Associations (SFCCA) and supported by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. By 2013, the SFCCA incorporated the SCCC with Mr Chua Thian Poh being appointed as Chairman.

The construction of the SCCC was primarily funded by the government with more than $29 million being raised from clan associations, foundations, companies and individuals. An additional $15 million was funded by the government’s Cultural Matching Fund.

Immediately after the SCCC’s official opening on 19 May 2017, the Centre launched its first cultural festival – Cultural Extravaganze with Voyage, a specially commissioned multi-media musical by Royston Tan. Singapore’s first ever dialect film anthology, 667, comprising of five dialect short films by five local filmmakers was also commissioned as part of the festival. Since then, it has held several cultural conferences and festivals, such as its first original dance-drama and the Diversity and Singapore Ethnic Chinese Communities International Conference where Singaporean academics examine and discuss certain aspects of the Singapore Chinese community. In 2021, the SCCC launched its first permanent exhibition SINGAPO: Discovering Chinese Singaporean Culture which has also received an award from the Design Business Chamber Singapore’s Singapore Good Design Awards.

Site 9: Former Customs Office

The Former Customs Office (Maxwell Chambers today) which formerly housed the Department of Customs and Excise served as Singapore’s tax collection and border protection agency from June 1932 to August 1989. The four storey building was commissioned and built by the Public Works Department for $313,000.

The former Customs Office played an instrumental role in Singapore’s fight against drugs in much of the 20th century. Drugs posed a serious problem in Singapore beginning from the mid 20th century. The Custom Office served as a base that aimed at suppressing the smuggling of contraband and drugs, as well as the illicit distillation of liquor. At one time, there was up to S$10 million worth of drugs such as heroin and opium stored in the offices. Human trafficking was another vice that the Custom Office was tasked to suppress. Customs officers would patrol the waters with speedboats and launches to intercept smugglers engaged in human trafficking on Singapore’s shores.

During WWII, the former Custom Office served as a shelter for expatriate customs officers and their families, as well as Australian soldiers that were rescued from Japanese soldiers. The department also contributed to war relief funding efforts by collecting taxes on fireworks, playing cards and rubber.

The Customs Office building is designed for Singapore’s hot and humid climate with windows designed for light and air ventilation before air-conditioning was available. The main entrance also features typical architectural designs of the 1930s such as the abstract sun-like motifs and steel-framed windows. The Customs Office underwent several rounds of renovation in 1959, 1967 and 1973 to accommodate the growing numbers of Customs staff and to improve the working environment such as installing air-conditioning through the whole building. When the Customs headquarters moved to the then World Trade Centre at Maritime Square in 1989, the Customs Office was re-designed for commercial use and renamed the White House. In 2010, it was again renamed as Maxwell Chambers. Today, the former Customs Office houses the world’s first integrated dispute resolution centre for international arbitration cases. The former Customs Office, gazette as a conservation building in 2007, has been recognized for its important contribution to Singapore’s architectural and historical landscape.

Site 10: Former Traffic Police Headquarters

The Former Traffic Police Headquarters was key in managing the early development of Singapore’s public transportation system since its establishment. As jinrikishas, bullock carts and electric trams quickly rose to become popular modes of public transport in Singapore, there was also an increase in road accidents and road rages due to the increasing diversity of transport on the road. Hence, the colonial government saw a need to set up a Traffic Office that could enforce law and order on the roads. The Traffic Office later expanded to the Traffic Branch in 1918.

By 1930, the Traffic Police Headquarters was completed at 28 Maxwell Road. Immediately, the Traffic Branch moved out of their office at South Bridge Road into the new Traffic Police Headquarters. While the Traffic Branch was responsible for traffic control, it also housed Singapore’s first Driving Test Centre and the only place where locals could attain a driving license. It was also responsible for the examination and registration of all motor vehicles.

The Traffic Police Headquarters was also instrumental in managing many instances where the public transportation system was paralyzed due to frequent labour and union strikes. It also had to manage the problem of illegal transportation, where pirate taxis which threatened road and passenger safety were rampant.

The former Traffic Police Headquarters was constructed to accommodate 118 officers and their families. The top of the building offered a view of the harbour and most of the city. The building was also specially designed to mitigate possible occurrences of stove fire breakouts, especially in its communal kitchens.

In 1999, the Traffic Police moved its headquarters to Ubi after spending 70 years at Maxwell Road. In 2005, the building was converted to house the Red Dot Design Museum. The former Traffic Police Headquarters was gazetted for conservation in 2007. Today, the building is occupied by the Maxwell Chambers Suites.

Site 11: Murray Terrace

Murray Terrace is a distinctive block of 14 pre-war built shophouses located along Murray Street. Much of the establishment and functions of the building remains shrouded in mystery due to the lack of available records of the building’s construction. However, it is believed that Murray Terrace was constructed in 1929 due to the year’s inscription on the building.

Murray Terrace boasts a couple of distinct architectural features which may provide hints of the purpose of the building exceeding just typically serving merchants in early Singapore. You may spot a flag post, an insignia of a lion head carving, and claw-like protrusions on the sides of the building. These unique features suggests that the building may have served as an army barrack at one time. Other interesting architectural features include its octagonal shaped columns, intricately latticed ventilation panels, and the mixture of plastered and exposed bricks on its exterior wall.

Murray Terrace may be remembered by most Singaporeans when it was refurbished and rebranded as Murray Terrace Food Alley in 1977. Murray Terrace Food Alley was famed for its wide availability of well-known hawkers and international cuisines. However, by the early 1990s, the Food Alley lost its popularity as famous hawkers were gradually being replaced. Eventually, spaces in the building became used for modern commercial purposes and as storage spaces. In 2018, Murray Terrace was refurbished as the Six Senses Maxwell hotel which has since closed down after COVID-19 hit.

Site 12: Former Metropole Theatre

The Former Metropole Theatre, also known as Jing Hwa Cinema, was one of Chinatown’s three famous cinemas during the ‘golden age of Singapore cinema’. The Metropole Theatre was built on the site of the former Empire Cinema, which was a make-shift wooden cinema that screened Western silent films. The Shaws rented the Empire Cinema to screen their Chinese films, which saw an increase in movie-goers to the cinema.

During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese took over the Empire Cinema and renovated the building, naming it the Teikoku Kan. Many Japanese war propaganda films were screened at the Teikoku Kan, which were generally second run Nippon films. The first film to be screened at the Teikoku Kan was ‘Eikoku Kusururu No Hi’ (Jack Union is Down), which reenacts the victory of the Japanese army in the war.

After the Japanese Occupation, the Teikoku kan was renamed as the Chungking Theatre in 1946. It was again renamed as the New Chungking Theatre after another renovation in 1952. Finally, the cinema became known as the Metropole Cinema in 1958. As the Metropole Cinema, many films screened were produced by local production companies that include Cathay-Keris Films and indie producer Nusantara Film. It was popular among the Chinese community for the many Chinese films screened, especially those form Hong Kong. At one time, well-known Hong Kong actress Nancy Sit Ka Yin even made guest appearances at the Metropole to promote her films

Designed by Wong Foo Nam, the architecture of the Metropole Cinema is representative of the Streamline Modernist movement. The exterior of the cinema is decorated with simplified windows and bare concrete. The design of the interior also considers the movement of movie-goers where the three levels of saw-tooth windows and winding staircases encourages movement towards the central lobby in the middle of the cinema.

In 1985, the cinema ceased operations. Fairfield Methodist Church subsequently acquired and renovated the building in 1986. While additional rooms and church fixtures were added, most of the original spaces of the cinema were left intact.

Site 13: Jinrikisha Station

The Jinrikisha Station served as the main depot for Singapore’s most popular transport in the 19th to early 20th century – the Jinrikisha. The Jinrikisha Station was formally opened in 1904 as the Jinrikisha industry was booming in Singapore and rickshaw facilities could not manage the increasing load. Until the Japanese Occupation, the Station served as the main centre for the registration and inspection of rickshaws.

The land where the Jinrikisha Station was built was purchased from Dato Bintara Dalam of Johor at the price of one Straits dollar per foot. The Station was located in close vicinity to Duxton Road since Duxton Road and Craig Road were where most of the rickshaw pullers stayed. Rickshaw pullers had to apply for their registration license and send their rickshaws for inspection at the Station.

The Jinrikisha Station proved to be especially important with the booming Jinrikisha industry. These rickshaws were especially indispensable and favoured by well-to-do, British civil servants and government officials. A travel of 800m on the rickshaw would cost 3 cents, while 20 cents would allow the passenger to have the rickshaw for an hour. The Jinrikisha Station was also the site where numerous strikes took place. Rickshaw pullers took to issues over registration and regulations, resulting in major strikes taking place in 1919, 1920 and 1938.

By the mid 20th century, the rickshaw saw decreasing popularity as other forms of public transportation such as electric trams and buses became more widespread. Up till the early 1940s, the numbers of rickshaws on the road had been steadily decreasing. By the time the Japanese Occupation had ended, the colonial government banned rickshaws on humanitarian grounds. Thereafter, the Jinrikisha Station was put to other uses, such as serving as a family-planning clinic and a maternal and childcare centre.

In 1987, the Jinrikisha Station was gazetted and put up for sale to private parties. Since then, the building had become privately owned. Hong Kong movie star Jackie Chan eventually bought the Jinrikisha Station building in 2007 for $11 million. Today, it is home to commercial offices and entertainment outlets.

The Jinrikisha Station is well-known for its distinct architectural features that presents exposed brick walls. It was designed by Municipal Engineer Samuel Tomlinson and Municipal Architex D.M. Craik in the Edwardian style. You will be able to spot the exposed brickwork that contrasts with the white plaster mouldings on the exterior of the building. The crest of the Municipal Council, a lion standing on an island with a palm tree, is also clearly visible. Furthermore, the building was designed in accordance with the curved corner where it stands where its unique ‘V’ shaped structure allows the building to maximize the land it is on. This structure is topped with a square tower with an octagonal cupola.

Site 14: Tanjong Pagar Plaza

Tanjong Pagar Plaza is a complex of HDB flats that currently sits on what was formerly Cheng Cheok Street, an important crossroads for traffic between the warehouses along the Singapore River and the wharves. The Plaza was conceived as part of the urban renewal project in Tanjong Pagar, that aimed to inject more life into the city area after working hours with a residential area.

Tanjong Pagar Plaza was constructed in two phases, 1977 and 1980, to include a two-storey podium block with a market, a hawker centre, and seven high-rise residential blocks. The architecture of the Plaza aimed to maximise light and ventilation through the internal landscaped courtyards that run through the entire length of the complex. These courtyards have also become important as a place where residents and visitors alike could gather.

Where Tanjong Pagar Plaza stands today was formerly Cheng Cheok Street, which was named after Khoo Cheng Cheok. Khoo Cheng Cheok is believed to be the brother of rice merchant Khoo Cheng Tiong, who was president of the Thong Chai Medical Institution. Many two-storey shophouses used to line Cheng Cheok Street, and these shophouses used to serve as residential houses, business sites, and vices such as brothels.

Over the years, the Tanjong Pagar Plaza has been home to several shops that have been operating in the complex for close to 40 years, serving familiar customers and new customers alike. Many of the shopkeepers that have been operating their businesses there for several decades have formed a close relationship. Hence, it may not be surprising that Tanjong Pagar Plaza is home to the Tanjong Pagar Plaza Traders Association today, where the welfare of shopkeepers are taken care of.

Site 15: Former Yan Kit Swimming Pool

While today participants may notice that the former Yan Kit Swimming Pool is levelled, it was once Singapore’s largest and most modern swimming pool in its heyday. Opened in 1952, Yan Kit Swimming Pool was Singapore’s second public swimming pool, after Mount Emily Swimming Pool. Yan Kit Swimming Pool consisted of three pools of various depths, diving platforms, a single storey clubhouse, as well as toilets and showers.

Yan Kit Swimming Pool got its name from Look Yan Kit, a wealthy and highly sought-after dentist with an influential and powerful clientele that includes Sultan Abu Bakar of Johor and the Rajah of Solo in the Dutch East Indies. Look owned two rubber plantations and 70 houses in Singapore and was also involved in the founding of the Kwong Wai Shiu Hospital in 1910.

The swimming pool was built on a former old railway site at a cost of S$13,000. The contours of the former railway track can be seen through the subtly curved sites of the swimming pool. It was designed in the Art Deco style which is represented through the flat concrete roof of the C-shaped building, the curved walls interspersed with round windows and perforated blocks, and the slim circular columns with conical capitals with a protracted veranda atop. The pool is also remembered for its distinct mural of sea creatures outside the changing rooms, its colourful mosaic tiles, and the pale-yellow tiles within the pool.

The pool proved to be extremely popular since its opening. In fact, it was so popular that there was only standing room available, and a two-hour time limit had to be imposed on swimmers. On Tuesday, the pool was only opened for females to cater to those who were too shy to appear in bathing suits in front of men. However, due to the steady decline of its popularity by the 1990s and its high costs of maintenance, the pool was closed in 2001 and returned to the state. Today, the pool has been levelled but you are still able to identify what used to be the outline of the pool by its colourful tiles.