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Mar 25, 2011

3D Blog - Tanjong Pagar (Then and Now)

Tanjong Pagar C1888. Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Tanjong Pagar C1920. Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)


On this 3D blog about Tanjong Pagar since 1888 of the photos especially the landmark of the Jinrikisha Station on various stages of changes at Tanjong Pagar for 123 years.

Over the century, Tanjong Pagar has emphasised on communication and transportation in the central area of Singapore. The Port of Singapore on its wharves for entrepot trade for shipping, the railway station and Jinrickshaw Station.

This blog on Jinrickshaw Station heritage reminds me of my first visit to the San Francisco Cable Cars , the obsolete transportation at the Fishermanswharf website here . While the merciless mode of transportation was used by horses in San Francisco in the early days, the rickshaws were by the human pullers in Singapore.

Nowadays, public transport in Singapore such as MRT,buses, taxis, lorries, coaches, etc are vehicle driven, not rickshaws which depended on legs and arms by footwork manpower.

The Singapore Mass Rapid Transport (SMRT) today is "Moving People, Enhancing Lives", not "pulling people and horses, damaging lives of homo sapiens and equine species" in years yonder.

For many years, Tanjong Pagar, located between the docks and the town, was an enclave for the thousands of Chinese and Indian dock workers who had migrated to Singapore from the mid nineteenth century. With all the traffic between the docks and the town, Tanjong Pagar was also lucrative ground for rickshaw pullers awaiting clients. So prevalent was their presence that in 1904, the government established a Jinricksha Station at the junction of Tanjong Pagar Road and Neil Road.

From the time the docks began operations in 1864, land values in Tanjong Pagar rose, attracting wealthy Chinese and Arab traders to buy real estate there.

The proliferation of impoverished workers led to overcrowding, pollution and social problems such as opium smoking and prostitution. Tanjong Pagar generally deteriorated into an inner city ghetto. By World War II, Tanjong Pagar was a predominantly working class Hokkien area with an Indian minority.

In the mid-1980s, Tanjong Pagar became the first area in Singapore to be gazetted under the government's conservation plan. When the conservation project was completed, many of the area's shophouses were restored to their original appearance. But although a few traces of the old Tanjong Pagar remain — an old swimming pool, the odd street cobbler — the face of Tanjong Pagar has changed. Today, Tanjong Pagar has become a fashionable district, filled with thriving businesses, cafés, bars and restaurants. (Source: Wikipedia Singapore).

Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Situated at the junction of Neil Road and Tanjong Pagar Road, the Jinrikisha Station is Singapore's last reminder of the once ubiquitous rickshaw. Rickshaws were small, light-weight carts with springs and large wheels. The rickshaw puller worked two shafts protruding from the front of the rickshaw and ran between them. The rickshaw was first imported from Shanghai to Singapore in 1880 and by 1888, a Jinricksha Department was set up to register and license each rickshaw. By the end of the 19th century, there were about 1,000 rickshaw owners in Singapore. The demand for rickshaws was so great that Japan began manufacturing cheaper versions.

The Jinrikisha Station was built from 1903 to 1904. Its location was ideal for catering to customers from the nearby Tanjong Pagar Docks and the adjacent thoroughfare that led from the docks to the town. By 1919, there were 9,000 rickshaws manned by 20,000 rickshaw pullers working in shifts.

The life of a rickshaw puller was harsh. Most could not afford to own a rickshaw and had to rent one. Rickshaw pullers lived in cramped cubicles in shophouses in Chinatown and earnings were meagre. To ease their heartaches as well as their overworked bodies, many turned to opium. Until 1904, all the rickshaws were two-seaters, which were heavy and often used to transport whole families and commercial goods; the weight was almost unbearable for the rickshaw pullers.

In 1911, the government tried to ban the two-seater rickshaw, but opposition delayed the passing of this law for another three years. However, when it was finally implemented, it proved ineffective. Fortunately, the single-seater soon emerged as the more popular rickshaw and the two-seater faded into disuse.

Rickshaws were gradually replaced by other means of transport: the trishaw, the electric tram, the bus and the car. After World War II (1942-1945), they were phased out by government legislation and the once familiar sight of rickshaws and rickshaw pullers disappeared forever from the streets of Singapore

At one time the Jinrikisha Station was used as a family planning clinic. In 1987 it was one of the first buildings in Tanjong Pagar restored by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). It was refurbished into a shopping and recreational centre. There are a seafood restaurant, shops, offices and nightclubs in the present building. (Source: Wikipedia Singapore)

Same place. Different times. Different infrastructure. Remaking of Tanjong Pagar...Time changes with the modern times. Experiment the third dimension how we feel for the same place at different times at day and night through this journalistic photography blog.


Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)



Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archive Singapore (NAS)


Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

Source: National Archives of Singapore (NAS)

More about Jinrickshaw at "Modes Of Road Transportation In Singapore In The 1930s - The Rickshaw" blog by Victor Koo here and the book "Horse-powered & Man-powered Transport: a philatelic excursion by Dr Tan Wee Kiat, Victor Koo and Noel Hidalgo Tan here .

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20 Comments:

Blogger professor said...

Jinrickshaw Station was the Colonial Office for vehicle registration, yesterday's version of LTA@Sin Ming Drive.

March 30, 2011 at 6:27 PM  
Blogger FL said...

My family lived thro Tg Pagar Rd /Anson Road areas from the 1950s thro the early 1960s. I can still relate to most of the old photos you've posted, like the wet market in Tg Pagar. As a kid, I used to follow my late mum whilst she did her marketing there. Another place is the B & W photos no. 1 and 8. This area was once a bus terminal for STC buses (S'pore Traction Co). I still remember the trolley buses. My family stayed in a kampong close to this area. As young kids, we used to frequent/roam the old shophouses shown in the pictures. Bro, thanks for posting these pictures. I could go on and on, but I've to shop here.

March 30, 2011 at 7:20 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for the helpful information, Professor.

This should be under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Transport in the early days.

April 1, 2011 at 12:51 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks for sharing the memories of Tanjong Pagar where you grew up in the 1960s, FL.

As more photos of familiar places are posted and trigger the childhood days of these century-old buildings, roads, lanes and little street in Singapore on this topic comments. Fellow Singaporeans who grew up in Tanjong Pagar are most welcome invited as guest bloggers on the 3D blog to express.

I did not grow up in Tanjong Pagar, but my first job in the civil service was at Tanjong Pagar/Chinatown areas.

Please watch out for the photographic journalism on the next coming blog for us to share. Thank you.

April 1, 2011 at 1:06 PM  
Blogger FL said...

The B & W photo of Tg Pagar Police Stn during my childhood days was known as the Singapore Harbour Board (SHB)Police Station with its own police force. The actual Tg Pagar Police Stn (demolished) then was located Keppel Rd/Tg Pagar Rd junction. This site is now the Tg Pagar Complex. My late dad worked as dockyard labourer with the former SHB in the early sixties.

April 2, 2011 at 2:09 AM  
Blogger Lam Chun See said...

You forgot to mention 2 other very famous spots nearby. One is the Metropole Theatre which Victor blogged about here.

The other is the well-known Sago Street and Sago Lane which my friend Simon Chu blogged about here.

As for me, I always associate the name Tanjong Pagar with Lee Kuan Yew and that brave Indian guy - whose name I cannot recall - who stood against him as an independent. I wonder how many young people know about him. I think his name should go into the history books. What say your readers?

April 2, 2011 at 10:35 PM  
Blogger FL said...

Yes, the then Metropole Cinemas was popular with the residents, and so was another Tg Pagar's "icon", the abandoned Yan Kit Swimming pool. I had patronised both these places as a young kid. Also, I refer to another B&W photo that shows the old shophouses and a domed-shape police station. I wish to share with all is that close to these two locations, there was an open-air cinemas back then. I remember the cinemas ceased operation around 1959/1960, I think. I, too, watched the shows there with my mum then.

April 3, 2011 at 1:37 PM  
Blogger Andy Young* said...

I remember taking the Tay Koh Yat Bus Service to school in the early 50s.

April 7, 2011 at 7:53 AM  
Blogger Philip said...

You showed b & w photos of street hawkers. Do you know name of the street? I remember a similar scene at Chin Cheok St of Tg Pagar Road. I think the street was demolished for Tg Pagar Plaza.

April 7, 2011 at 10:15 AM  
Blogger FL said...

Hi, Philip, one of the "market" streets shown in the b & w photo with overhanging tree roots, I recall as a kid, should be Narcis Street. This demolished street, I think, is somewhere at the present Blks 6 & 7 Tg Pagar Plaza. Of course, the "market" streets then also included Cheng Cheok St, Gopeng St & Wallich St. Correct me if I'm wrong.

April 9, 2011 at 12:36 AM  
Blogger blueheeler said...

Did you mention that the building was bought by Jackie Chan recently?
"Lelong lelong! Heritage for sale!!!"

http://snap.nl.sg/details/TPagar1338.html

April 13, 2011 at 9:31 AM  
Blogger lim said...

Is the Jinrickshaw station still a Chinese restaurant? I had lunch there on several occasions some 9 years ago. The Metropole is still occupied by a church? Things can change so fast, and before you knew it, it's changed. Anyway, when I have breakfast at the Maxwell FC, I would usually seat at the side facing the Metropole. Of course, a very popular tourist destination has sprung up nearby - a huge Buddha relic temple.

April 14, 2011 at 8:52 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

FL, glad to know that several of the PICAS archived photos provided me as much "memory aids" as they did for you.
Thank you for sharing the remember Tanjong Pagar of the places and feelings where you grew up. Appreciate if you would like to post us the related photos from your family album with your credit and contributions.

April 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Chun See,

There are many heritage monuments and buildings on Tanjong Pagar.

Metropole Theatre will be included on the next blog.

So will the demolished Tanjong Pagar Police Station mentioned by FL too.

Thanks for sharing the info.

April 16, 2011 at 11:03 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Lim,

The Jinrickshaw Station is now "One Neil Road" Chinese restaurant and karaoke entertainment centre.

Metropole Theatre is certainly a prominent location opposite Maxwell Road Food Centre and Jinrickshaw Station.

April 16, 2011 at 11:13 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thanks to blueheeler for the link to the National Library Singapore Pages with information about Jackie Chan's acquisition of a Tanjong Katong heritage building.

April 16, 2011 at 11:14 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Philip, pls send me old photos of Cheng Cheok Street if you have any.
Much appreciated and thanks.

April 16, 2011 at 11:30 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Andy, there were various routes run by Tay Koh Yat buses at Tanjong Pagar. These were mostly run by small buses at Tanjong Pagar.

April 16, 2011 at 11:33 PM  
Blogger lim said...

The Tay Koh Yat bus service is certainly a thing of the past that I'm glad is gone for good. May this kind of poor transport service never comes back to haunt us. Some disturbing signs lately of very crowded MRT trains. Not as bad as TKY, but we need to be aware of this, and keep improving.

April 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM  
Blogger Thimbuktu said...

Thank you Lim for the relevant comments on the evolution of a slice of Singapore's transport history on this blog.

Transportation and communication is the vital economic lifestream of every country.

The public bus operators over the decades such as Tay Koh Yat Bus, Hock Lee Bus, Green Bus and Singapore Traction Company (STC) were profit-motivated without LTA control at the safety and risk of commuters. With increasing demands and expectations of the customers, the transport systems could not remain stagnant and ever improving and updating of the traffic routes, stringent regular maintenance and hardware and software system for the needs of the customers.

April 18, 2011 at 12:49 PM  

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