Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Accidental Tourist @ Raffles Place, Singapore's Commercial Hub

Who would have thought that a walk around Raffles Place is actually a walk down Singapore’s history?

I got a local history lesson from the online research carried out on Raffles Place.Some trivia to wet your appetite: 

  1. Raffles Place was formerly called Commercial Square and was designated for commercial activities by Sir Stamford Raffles himself back in 1822 as part of his Raffles Town Plan. The rectangular centre of Raffles Place was often referred to as Raffles Square. 
  2. It was the first reclamation project in Singapore as it was swampy land next to the Singapore River. An old photograph of this place is available at http://pictures.nl.sg/ece740d4-2c9d-4e22-b90b-2526482e0b0c.aspx.
  3. Part of the history of this place resulted in the naming of the streets such as Market Street and Chulia Street (know earlier as Kling Street) were named after Dr Jose D'Almeida, the surgeon, who had his dispensary and his business firm of Jose D'Ameida and Sons in Commercial Square.” 
  4. Singapore’s very own (and oldest department store) John Little started their operations here in Commercial Square back in 1845. An old 1890s photograph of John Little in Raffles Square can be seen from http://pictures.nl.sg/8b573ddb-a7f7-43a8-8acf-24babe88ebd8.aspx 
  5. In 1858, Commercial Square was renamed Raffles Place. The sea came right up to the buildings on the south side of the square then, many of which were godowns with jetties that allowed cargo to be loaded and unloaded directly from boats. From 1857 to 1865, the land by the south side was reclaimed for commercial use. This new land became Collyer Quay. 

  • During World War II, and on 8 December 1941, Japanese planes made Raffles Place one of their targets of destruction. 
  • On 12 December 1987, Raffles Place Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Station was opened with accesses from each end of Raffles Square. The station's entrance has detailing reminiscent of the John Little Building's facade dated 1911 which was fashioned in a Spanish style.

  • More trivia can be found at the following websites:

    Trivia on the buildings that you will see once you step out of the Spanish style main entrances/ exit points that face Raffles Gardens aka Raffles Square aka Commercial Square:
    • The 60-storey One Raffles Place (formerly known as Overseas Union Bank Centre and OUB Centre was officially declared open on 8 August 1988 (the auspicious triple 8 number thought to bring good luck in Chinese belief) by  Singapore's then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Ye.It was the world's tallest building then, outside of the USA. (more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OUB_Centre). 
    • A few interesting facts about 67 floor skyscraper, UOB Plaza One is that it shares the same architect,KenzoTange Associates with its co-tallest building title holder, One Raffles Place (more info http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UOB_Plaza).It also houses Masjid Moulana Mohd Ali Mosque which is unique as first, it is located underground in basement one of the UOB Plaza – controversial as to some Muslims, this is not good as it is located “in the bowels” of the earth and second, it is the first mosque that was built to serve people who lived and worked around Raffles Place (more info http://web.archive.org/web/20070312202636/http://www.nhb.gov.sg/PE/FOF_2003/sites_moulana.html 
    • Republic Plaza is the newest kid on the threesome block of tallest skyscrapers in Singapore, having only been built back in 1995. Located at the southern end of Raffles Place in the Downtown Core, the central business district of Singapore. At 280 metres (919 feet) tall, it incorporates earthquake proof features despite Singapore being relatively far from earthquake zones. More info at "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_Plaza_(Singapore)">http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Republic_Plaza_(Singapore).

    These and many more buildings surround the Raffles Garden – for the whole list, hop over to http://www.smrt.com.sg/Trains/NetworkMap/RafflesPlace.aspx.The place constantly rejuvenates itself as the new Ocean Towers is undergoing reconstruction as I pen down these thoughts and will only add on to the exciting new skyscrapers that I see springing up almost overnight at this location.

    Till the next time, onto theworld and beyond! 

    No comments:

    Post a Comment