Follow the Journey
"Temasek" (Singapore River) - An Important and Busy Port
Due to its prime position along trade routes through South East Asia, Singapore (or Temasek, as it was previously known) was a long-time centre for trade and commerce. The lower reaches of the Singapore River served as a river-port and gateway economy for the international trade of precious cargo such as ceramics, lacquer wood, spices and more. By the early 17th century however, regional contestations for dominance of the Straits as well as its trade revenues had repeatedly destroyed Singapore’s main port and settlement, causing it to lose its importance.
The Beginning of Our Modern History -Sir Stamford Raffles' Landing and
Singapore as a Free Port
Excited by the harbour’s deep and sheltered waters, Raffles negotiated with local rulers for the British East India Company to establish a trading post on the island. His decision to give Singapore a free port status, coupled with world events such as the advent of steam ships, the opening of the Suez Canal and the rise in the trade of Malayan rubber among others, sparked the island’s rapid rise to becoming a global trading port and key maritime hub.
Coleman Bridge built
Coleman Bridge was the second bridge built over the Singapore River. Alternatively known as New Bridge, it was designed by and named after George Drumgoole Coleman, an Irish civil architect who played an instrumental role in building early Singapore. Coleman Bridge has seen several iterations since its first brick version, including a timbre version (a.k.a. Canning Bridge, 1862 to 1883), an iron rendition (1886 to 1986)— considered one of the most attractive in Singapore—and its present-day reinforced concrete form which retains many of its predecessors' decorative features.
Arrival and Settlement of Traders and Migrants along the River Banks
An idyllic community of over a thousand indigenous sea gypsies, known as Orang Gelam, lived around the mouth of the Singapore River when Raffles first arrived. By the 1840s, most of them had been dispersed under official pressure, as trade, commerce and activities of a burgeoning population grew in and around the river. Immigrants hailed from China, India, and the region, coming from all walks of life to fill various roles in the developing economy as coolies, businessmen, hawkers, moneylenders, craftsmen, clerks and more.
Merlion unveiled at the mouth of
In 1969, Singapore’s post-independence Prime Minister, Lee Kuan Yew, called for the clean-up of the polluted Singapore River as part of the nation’s urban redevelopment plan. It was a massive and challenging decade long undertaking, and heralding the new age was Singapore’s now-iconic mascot - the Merlion.
First unveiled at the mouth of the river in 1972, the statue was a symbol designed by Alec Fraser-Bruner, a member of the Singapore Tourism Board, and sculpted from concrete fondue, ceramic plates and small red teacups by the late Singaporean artist, Lim Nang Seng.
Esplanade - Theatres on the Bay
Today, the Singapore River is a life-sustaining, clean and attractive place of interest. Known to tourists and locals alike as a hub for business, as well as waterfront dining and leisure, cultural landmarks of the modern city stand surrounding its shores.
Chief among them is the performing arts centre, Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay, designed to showcase various genres and styles of arts performances (especially traditional Asian art forms). Its eye-catching and spiky twin domes are unofficially referred to as “the durians” by locals.
Officially opened in 2008, the giant observational wheel stands at 165 metres and was the world’s tallest Ferris wheel until 2014. Featuring 28 air-conditioned capsules designed to accommodate 28 passengers each, the wheel is in constant rotation with a round trip lasting approximately 32 minutes.
Showcasing 360-degree panoramic views of the Singapore skyline and neighbouring countries, the rotational direction of the wheel was notably reversed late into construction, at a six-figure sum cost, following advice from geomancers.
Marina Bay Sands Singapore
The Marina Bay Sands integrated resort features the world’s largest cantilevered platform, overhanging its tower by 67 metres. The striking design is home to a 2,561-room hotel, a convention-exhibition centre, a mall, museum, theatres and a casino.
A 2.5-acre park sits atop the building with restaurants, gardens, jogging paths and a ‘vanishing edge’ swimming pool showcasing a true bird’s-eye view of the Singapore CBD skyline. To keep the tall and lean structures from settling and tilting over time, there are over 500 jacks beneath the structure allowing for adjustments over time.
ArtScience Museum of Singapore
The world’s first ArtScience museum was designed by Israeli-Canadian architect, Moshe Safdie. Created to explore the space where art, science, culture and technology come together, it hosts international exhibits from renowned museums and galleries world-wide.
The building is reminiscent of an abstract lotus flower, featuring a round, cylindrical base with 10 ‘finger’ protrusions, with skylights at their tips to naturally illuminate the curved interiors. Rainwater is channeled down the centre of its bowl-shaped roof into a reflecting pond at its lowest level, and recycled in the building’s restrooms.
Gardens by the Bay
A futuristic nature park spanning 101 hectares of reclaimed land, Gardens by the Bay comprises 3 waterfront gardens – Bay South Garden, Bay East Garden and Bay Central Garden. Replicating the cool and dry Mediterranean regions, its Flower Dome is the largest glass greenhouse in the world.
A crowd-pleaser with lush lawns, lakes and waterways, the park also hosts a variety of festivals and eighteen plant-covered, solar-powered ‘supertrees’. Ranging from nine to sixteen-storeys tall, they are suspended with aerial bridges for visitors to gain a bird’s-eye view of the bay area.