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History of Thiam Siew Avenue . Tanjong Katong
As far as towns are concerned, Tanjong Katong is one of Singapore’s living legends. The small coastal neighbourhood is located in the eastern part of Singapore’s Central Region. It is home to prestigious residential and commercial developments, however, don’t be fooled to think this is how things have been. Tanjong Katong has gone through various phases to become the matured neighbourhood highly sought after it is today.
The Beginnings Of Tanjong Katong
The Tanjong Katong neighbourhood is named after the original Tanjong Katong, a famous beach on the east coast. In Malay, Tanjong means “cape”, and Katong means “turtle”. In English, Tanjong Katong is Turtle Cape, inspired by the now extinct sea turtle in the area.
In early historical records, Tanjong Katong is described as a place rich in fish and marine life. Two Orang Laut or sea gipsies also inhabited this coastal area. In the 1880s, the British government acquired the land between East Coast Road and Tanjong Rhu. Later, a coconut plantation was established there, making Tanjong Katong one of the largest coconut producers in Southeast Asia.
A significant part of Tanjong Katong’s history is recorded in the large Tanjong Katong Fort. During colonial times, the coastal area was strategically important to the British as it guarded the entrance to the Singapore River. Therefore, they built a massive fort at the mouth of the river.
Tanjong Katong Fort was completed in 1879 and served as the main defence against attacks from the sea. The fort was demolished in 1901 to make way for the construction of a new harbour. This military fort inspired the current name for Fort Road. Later, the fort was demolished due to its poor construction.
After the war, Tanjong Katong was redeveloped and became a residential area. It became a desirable place with beautiful villas and mansions reserved for the wealthy Anglo-French, English, Chinese and Portuguese businessmen. Residents built luxurious seaside resorts and established strong business empires that later gave rise to important landmarks such as Kampong Amber.
The story of Tanjong Katong is one of many ups and downs. It’s a place that’s seen many battles and bloodshed. It’s also been home to many people and has hosted different cultures. From the Tanjong Katong Fort to the Battle of Singapore and the Japanese occupation, Tanjong Katong has seen and experienced it all.
Today’s Tanjong Katong is a far cry from the old estate it once was. Many old buildings have been demolished and replaced with new ones. Despite this change, many of the estate’s original features are still visible, giving us a glimpse into its fascinating history.
Apart from the historical traces left by Katong’s past, its strategic location today makes it a sought-after place for old and young locals and expatriates.