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Feb 16, 2011

3D Blog - Bugis Street (Places)

The blueprint and proposed master plan of this building was submitted by the architects over a century ago. Although these planners and construction builders likely not on this earth today, their design, plans still stand at Bugis Street, Singapore today. Many, many changes have been made and re-made over the year to the internal renovation, use of trade and business, shophouse ownership, its the same place, different times, different nature of business. Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

As a sequel to this blog on 3D - Blog Street (People) , here's 2nd Shot's blogsite with great photos, interesting and informative articles on The Real Shophouses of Bugis Junction to find out more.

Another "Boogie at Bugis" blog here .

Histories of architecture not only explore the remains of what has been built in the past, but also architecture of which no remains can be found but only written testimonies. The existing historical architecture is nothing more than a fraction of what once existed, and even that little has usually been so greatly encroached on by restorations and rebuilding that even fraction ends up more as appearance than reality. (Source: "Memories of Architecture" by Wim Denslagen. Translated by Donald Gardner).

History of Bugis Street

Its old buildings of character has a rich architectural heritage worth preserving.

The original street was a well-known "world" tourist attraction frequented by tourists,especially in the 1950s & 1960s,when it was notorious for the transvestites found there.It was popular with British colonial soldiers & seamen on shore leave with US military on "Rest & Recreation" (R&R) during the Vietnam War.The charm of the place even attracted locals. Lined with old shophouses,food stalls parked outside offered al fresco dining serving local specialities until the early hours of the morning.In the height of its notoriety,when the street was gangster controlled,it was rife with con men,pimps,street vendors & touts trying to sell their wares.Bugis Street 's cabaret atmosphere began only in the evenings.The main highlight was the 'parade of transvestites' as they made their nightly appearances with "showtime" starting at 11:00 pm.It was the only alternative for night entertainment after midnight.The street would remain alive until dawn.

The dirty back lanes,smelly drains,unhealthy sanitary & rotting conditions in the area necessitated a clean up in the 1980s.Despite an outcry from both Singaporeans and tourists alike,the street was resited right opposite the original street, between Victoria Street & Queen Street.The bustling Bugis MRT subway Station & the Bugis Junction shopping mall are where the crowds gather today.Bugis street still serves food and is transformed into a night bazaar in the evenings but no longer does it have the colour and flavour of its past life.

Chinese Name:
In Hokkien,Peh sua-pu possibly means "White-wash" where peh is "white".The name is derived for uncertain reasons with the following being some possibilities:
(1) from the white sands of the seashore there.
(2) from the business of the white shore sand being sold in Bugis Street for the construction industry.
(3) it was believed that the houses there were given an extra coat of whitewash.

Malay Name: Others suggest the name is derived from the Malay word sapu for "broom" or "sweep".

Bugis Street is part of “Ta Po" (大坡) referred to the area south of the Singapore River, and “Xiao Po" (小坡) referred to the area north of it. There are 2 roads in 大坡, and 7 in 小坡. Chinese used to refer to the roads in these areas in numeric sequence rather than their original names:

1) Da Po 1st Road - South Bridge Road
2) Da Po 2nd Road - New Bridge Road
3) Xiao Po 1st Road - North Bridge Road
4) Xiao Po 2nd Road - Victoria Street
5) Xiao Po 3rd Road - Queen Street
7) Xiao Po 4th Road - Waterloo Street (At Krishnan Hindu Temple & Kuanyin Temple)
8) Xiao Po 5th Road - Bencoolen Street
9) Xiao Po 6th Road - Prinsep Street
10) Xiao Po 7th Road - Selegie Road

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Photo Credit: National Archives of Singapore (NAS).

Bugis Street (Today)

Today,Bugis Street has revamped itself by providing sheltered walkways & air-conditioned shopping zones.Now housing over 600 stalls,it offers an eclectic mix of trendy and functional street wear,cafes,hawker food & services.Possibly one of the best known areas in Singapore,Bugis Street retains its disctinctive street shopping feel.

New Bugis Street which can be seen bordering Bugis Street, is a newly created shopping street that was actually developed based on the old Bugis Street. It features a number of narrow alleys lined with stalls selling "pasar malam" or night market goods. This is in fact the only area in Singapore where tourists can experience a bazaar style shopping expedition, bargaining is commonplace here and a number of specialty goods such as traditional clothing, souvenirs and culinary delights can be found.



Related Posts:
Memories of Singapore Fashion & Music in the 1960s here .

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3 Comments:

Blogger sim hui hwang said...

Hi James, the Bugis street of yore was distinctly quieter. If I am not imagining things, did the photograph clear the streets before pics were taken?

Now, I see the same crowd like the one you showed us, on Chinatown. It just makes me wonder why crowds look the same everywhere.

Same people buying same things. Again, this is an area I never knew. Now, teenagers throng the place and they go for cheap fashion accessories and clothing.

I was there just 3 days ago to collect my consolation prize of $100 worth of CDs from Sony Music. You see, I took part in a Christmas Draw and all I did was to buy a Susan Boyle Christmas CD.

Well, it is somewhat sad to see that a spanking new building across the road, called Iluma (did I spell it correctly), is actually dead quiet. I suspect it is a mistake to have that cavernous place right opposite the old Bugis haunt.

There are just too much retail space and I guess the old Bugis Junction is still the main draw because of the 'eclectic' mix, like what you had mentioned.

Now, if you were to walk around this area, there is nothing that gives people the idea of history.

The spiral staircase was and still is, my idea of giddy spell. I never knew how to use a spiral staircase. That is one reason I never climb up to the top deck of a bus. I feel nauseous having to climb up in a dizzying manner.

Was there ever a reason for making staircases spiral upwards? For people like me, who have motion sickness, this sure induces it.

Thanks so much for the blog, James. By the way, I have heard of 4th Road, where the Kwan Imm Temple is. The other roads, I am afraid, are no longer familiar to the younger generation of taxi drivers.

March 20, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Congratulations on your Christmas Lucky Draw, Hui Hwang. A prize of $100 could buy you quite a lot of VCD titles from Sony, didn't you?

When those photos for Bugis Street (Place) blog were taken on New Year Eve on 31 December, 2010, Bugis Street was very crowded with the festive shoppers and tourists.

Did you notice the huge crowd outside the Bugis Street entrance traffic junction. For a better view of the buildings, I waited at the traffic light for the vehicles to obstruct the view in the photos.

The unique spiral staircases at Bugis Street buildings in the photos (then and now) were taken at the same places at different times. The architectural designs during the colonial period was similar building with spiral stairs at Havelock Road. We don't see these buildings in Singapore any more.

Thank you for your personal observation on the blog to express from a different perspective and experience. It's wonderful to look at the same place enriched from different angles.

March 23, 2011 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Andy Young* said...

As a younger person, I remember the hustle and bustle of Bugis Street and the market smell which we are all familiar with.

Then came Boom Boom Room where Kumar (local comedian) made his mark. The 'lady-men' came too and like the Tiffany 'girls' in Thailand, it became a symbol of a new breed of women.

Today, just as busy, Bugis Street stands as another landmark for ever-changing Singapore.

April 1, 2011 at 9:09 AM  

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