02 January 2010

Old Singapore Quiz (16) - Answer - Garden City Built But Garden Street Lost

Singapore built a Garden City but lost a Garden Street. Garden Street was an old L-shaped street that joined Beach Road to Rochor Road. It existed up till the early 1990s. The 1963 road map below shows the exact location of Garden Street. (The red arrow shows the direction in which the camera lens was pointing when the 1970s photo was taken.)


Note that one end of the street was opposite the Clyde Terrace Market while the other was opposite the New 7th Storey Hotel. Sadly, both landmarks are no longer around - the former was demolished in 1983 while the latter was demolished only last year, i.e. 2009. Clyde Terrace Market was torn down to make way for the Gateway twin towers while the New 7th Storey Hotel had to go because of the construction of the Downtown MRT line. Below are some old images of New 7th Storey Hotel and Clyde Terrace Market compared to what the sites look like today.

New 7th Storey Hotel, a year or two ago.

The site where New 7th Storey Hotel used to be.

Clyde Terrace Market on right of photo (c 1900). Source: NAS.

Clyde Terrace Market (c 1900). Source: Singapore - 500 Early Postcards.

Clyde Terrace Market (c 1920). Source: Singapore - 500 Early Postcards.

Beach Road (c 1930). Clyde Terrace Market being visible from Beach Road; many rickshaws and a few cars are parked alongside the market. Source: Singapore - 500 Early Postcards.

The twin towers of the Gateway today stand on the former site of Clyde Terrace Market

In fact, these are not the only 2 landmarks that had disappeared from the 1963 map or the 1970s photo. There have been many changes in the landscape of this area since the 1960s. The other changes are described below:

1. Masjid Bahru ("New Mosque") in Jeddah Street, labelled no. "30" in the map. First built about 1870, and rebuilt in 1928. The majority of the smaller streets in this neighbourhood were laid out between 1860 and 1875, when Beach Road ceased to be a fashionable residential area, and most of the nearby buildings date from this period.

2. "Redstone" from this forum summarised it very well:

"I remember when I was young, like around 1994/5/6, the shophouses on Parkview's current 'field' is still around. The Blanco Court was still around, so was Kallang Gasworks and the shophouses around 7th storey hotel. It's really very sad, for it was THE original "old town" of Singapore. Seriously it's a very bad decision.

Clyde Street and Beach Road junction (c 1963). Source: NAS.

Clyde Street (c. 1979). Source: NAS.

From old maps the streets names were Fraser, Farquahar, Barnard, Clyde, Sin Koy, Garden, Jeddah, Beach Lane, and one Shiek "something", an Arabic name which I forgot. The streetscape was almost same as the Kampong Glam core. With the main street, Beach and North Bridge Roads, Ophir and Rochor Roads on all 4 sides. The central street, Jeddah Street, of which is a cul-de-sac, and has a mosque, if I remember correctly from the Street Directory as late as 1995, the name was Masjid Bahru. The mosque has been demolished too. If given a choice, the old town of Singapore versus the whole Beach Road / Jln Sultan / Crawford public housing estates and even in exchange for Parkview Square, I would like to have the Old Town. Now there are only a few shophouses fronting the original beachfront at Beach Road.

Last time the shophouses stretched all the way from Blair Plains almost unbroken all the way Crawford, then again at Katong. Now... I think only 30% remain?"

Note: The "shiek something" which Redstone forgot was Shaik Madersah Lane.

3. Blanco Court, the building under construction in the top right of the 1970s photo, was ironically "blanco-ed" from the area towards the end of the 1990s to make way for Raffles Hospital which was officially opened on 16 Mar 2002. Blanco Court was a place where you could get everything you needed for a kid's party. It also had a food court which sold delicious fried fish bee hoon and kway chap.

4. Blk 405 Victoria Street - the tall 20-odd-storey HDB block that you see in the 1970s photo was demolished a few years ago. I remember eating Bak Kut Teh in the coffeeshop below the block many years ago. Bugis MRT Station was located right next to this block.

If you blow up the 1970s photo, you could vaguely see the street name "Garden Street" on the left of the photo. (I am a little surprised why Icemoon, who has always been very meticulous, had missed out this important detail.)

Comparing the 1970s photo of Garden Street with a second-shot of the same view today ...


... as well as the 1963 map with today's map


... and you will surely agree that this area, otherwise known as Kampong Glam, has undergone tremendous changes over the last few decades. However, the old landmarks were certainly not sacrificed because Singapore wanted to built a Garden City. On the contrary, they were somehow lost in the process of turning our city into a concrete jungle that lacks the character and the charm of the Old Town, as Redstone so fondly called it.

9 comments:

Andy Young* said...

A Tribute To Victor Koo

A book you must write
Without any doubt,
Your stories on Singa
Would attract a crowd.

Such information here
All gathered so well,
Stems from a love
One can easily tell.

A man of talent
And sincere beliefs,
It's time, Victor
To roll up your sleeves!

As the pages are written
It will swell to a pile,
Of documented evidence
That will surely beguile.

So begin your task
And don't waste a mo',
'Cause your book will sell
As you become a pro'.

Victor said...

Wow, Andy. You should have been a poet. Thank you for writing such a wonderful poem as a tribute to me.

I would have been an author, Andy. But the problem is that my first book didn't sell very well.

kelisen said...

Nice post, mr koo. But fret not. Though we lost Garden St, we've got a Secret Garden to entertain us with songs and dance all day! :P

Victor said...

Ahh... so Kelisen is my "long lost" friend. So sorry for losing your macarons.

oceanskies79 said...

Most of what are on this post are so new to me. Thank you Victor for the post.

My goodness, what used to be Garden Street has changed so drastically!

Victor said...

PY, thank you for your coment. Garden Street is little known among the young people of today. Even I couldn't recall this place when Peter sent me the photo.

I believe that the empty ground you see in the foreground of the 1970s photo used to be occupied by old shophouses too.

Icemoon said...

I can't make out the street name in the enlarged photo too. The street directory has no Garden Street printed, that one was added by Victor. Don't be fooled. :P

Victor said...

Icemoon, both 1963 and 1983 street directories show Garden Street, except that for the latter, the part of the street represented by the shorter leg of the "L" no longer exists. Which year's street directory did you refer to?

Anonymous said...

i'm pretty shocked that all the streets have disappeared. i didn't even know they were there to begin with! i guess it's the price we pay for our ravenous appetite for growth and money. nobody cares anymore. the government just mowed them down (in the past) as they see fit. probably their only concern are to sterilise the city from crime, corruption and grit, but the price is that our heritage and culture gets lost in the pursuit of the garden city. this city continues to depress me.