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April 08, 2009

Famous Old Places of Singapore

Famous Old Places of Singapore (That Still Exist Today)

I saw an old 1930s movie about Singapore, entitled "Singapore: Crossroads of the East" at yesterday.sg.

Described by a 22 September 1956 issue of Boxoffice (a trade magazine dedicated to the film industry at that time) as "an economic look at Singapore, its harbour, rivers, natives and other peoples", I found some famous old places of Singapore featured in the 1938 film rather familiar.

YouTube (below): This film is available for download. You can also embed it in your blog by clicking on the right lower corner of the YouTube movie below.

For old places and buildings to remain standing after 71 years and more, despite the constant makeover of our little island, they richly deserve publicity and fame.

What impressed me about this film were the many famous old places of Singapore shown in the film that are still standing today. As a comparison, how many of you live in properties that are older than 71 years?

To travel back in time to see those old places in the 1930s was an out-of-this-world experience. Better than photographs, the film breathed a surreal sense of life into those famous old places.

The surrounding neighbourhoods around those buildings and famous old places in Singapore may have changed beyond recognition, but the buildings and famous old places have kept their shapes mostly unchanged.

Do you recognize those famous old places in Singapore that were shown in the film? I could discern Chinatown's Thian Hock Keng Temple, Sri Mariamman Temple and Sultan Mosque. The Singapore River scene with Cavenagh Bridge and Elgin Bridge, plus the famous rows of godowns would be familiar to most of you. How about the Cenotaph, Victoria Memorial Hall, City Hall, St Andrew's cathedral near Queen Elizabeth Walk (now Esplanade Park)?

Besides the buildings and places, I found the mode of transportation in those days to be fascinating too. In one scene (3:45), did you notice the poor guy using 'car' (leg) power to pull his rickshaw that was loaded with four occupants? How about the bullock carts, horse-drawn carriages and bumboats? No traffic lights in 1938? No problem, call the mobile traffic light warden with the huge sign across his back and white gloves to direct traffic flow.

Guys who have done or are doing National Service duties may be interested to know how a regular in 1938 wore his uniform, helmet, rifle and SBO. Those in the Airforce, would likely blink twice to see the state-of-the-art flying machines performing airforce duties.

You do not need to be a heritage enthusiast to watch this old film of famous places in Singapore. My kids were really thrilled to watch a slice of Singapore life that they never knew existed. You may even find some of those scenes a little comical.

While some of those famous places may be still be around today, do you think they will last forever?

For future generations to learn about our history and understand our roots, I hope they do.

See more places. Live more life.

seen this scene that

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Famous Old Place said...

For old places and buildings that remain standing after 71 years... they deserve recognition and fame.

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