Singapore River, Now and Then


The Singapore River has changed and been modernized a lot since the early days. Instead of bump boats used for trading, they are now used for tourism and transportation. Instead of warehouses and street stalls, there are cafes, restaurants, and museums along the river.

City view from other end of Singapore River

It was decided in mid-1980s that the Singapore River was to be redeveloped into a recreational area for locals and tourists. Most of the old buildings were preserved and re-used for other purposes. Today, many shophouses along Boat Quay are restaurants and pubs, while some of the larger godowns along Robertson Quay and Jiak Kim Streer have been transformed into clubs and houses.

A view of the Hawker Center at Empress Place along Singapore River, 1973      
In the past, there were many activities on the Singapore River. There were hawkers, coolies, lightermen and merchants on and alongside of the Singapore River. Trading was common along Singapore River, since Singapore was a trading port at that time, and the most common place to trade freely was at Singapore River.

Panoramic view of the Singapore rIver from Boat Quay at the begining of the 2th century, showing the three-storey portion of the Ancient Civilization museum

Now, things have changed a lot. There’s no more trading in the area. There’s restaurants, pubs, clubs, museums, and river cruises for tourists. The river is even cleaner now, compared to before. There are office buildings near Singapore River.

This is already the future, as plans for a long tidal barrier at the area around the mouth of the Singapore River, called Marina Barrage, has already been built. This will turn Singapore River and the Marina area into the country’s largest freshwater catchment area. By year 2061, when water agreements with Malaysia are due to expire, Singapore should have a sustainable supply of water, thanks to the Marina Barrage. The large reservoir creates opportunities for more outdoor activities, like canoeing and water-skiing, at the heart of the city.
Based on your observation along the Singapore River and inferences, explain the activities that are carried out along the river during the early days and present days

While we were there, we saw many eateries and pubs littering one side of the Singapore River. Also there were many high-rise office buildings too, which would explain the often sight of many middle age office workers in suits along the Singapore River. Occasional we would see some people running or walking their pets along the Singapore River as a form of Leisure exercise. There were also a few tourists who were walking along the Singpore River or having a boat tour through the it. From what we saw, we can conclude that the Present-day Singapore River is one that is a business central, tourist attraction and a place to hang out all in one.

Street view along Singapore River many bars

Another Picture of the Singapore River

Landmarks Along Singapore River

Asian Civilization Museum @ Empress Place

Orginally built in 1865 for use as a court house, this building was used for various government offices including the immigration Department before being converted into a museum.

A View of the Government Offices [ Empress Place Building] in the late 19th century, showing it as a much smaller structure compared to what it is today.
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Fullerton Hotel
This landmark building is located on the site of the former Fort Fullerton. It was build in 1928 and served for many years as the General Post Office before being converted into a hotel development

Picture of the Fullerton Hotel facing the Singapore River

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Parliament Complex
This complex was completed in 1999 to replace the old parliament which is located nearby. It includes the Parliament Chambers and the former Attorney General’s Quarters. 

Two pictures of the Parliament Complex

Victoria Theatre & Concert Hall
The Theatre was built in 1862 for use as the Town Hall, while the Concert Hall was built in 1905. An 1887 statue of Sir Stamford RAffles is located in front of the building. 

The Victoria Theater, Many performances are shown there
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