Tanjong Pagar

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Tanjong Pagar
Subzone of Downtown Core Planning Area
Other transcription(s)
 • Chinese丹戎巴葛
Dānróng Bāgě (Pinyin)
Tan-jiông Pa-kat (Hokkien POJ)
 • MalayTanjung Pagar (Rumi)
تنجوڠ ڤاڬر(Jawi)
 • Tamilதஞ்சோங் பகார்
Tañcōṅ Pakār (Transliteration)
Tanjong Pagar Road
Tanjong Pagar Road
 • MayorCentral Singapore CDC
 • Members of ParliamentJalan Besar GRC

Tanjong Pagar GRC

Tanjong Pagar (alternatively spelled Tanjung Pagar) is a historic district located within the Central Business District in Singapore, straddling the Outram Planning Area and the Downtown Core under the Urban Redevelopment Authority's urban planning zones.


The Tanjong Pagar Housing Estate with the Pinnacle@Duxton in the background
Craig Road is named after Captain J. Craig, a member of the Merchant Service Guild and an officer of the Zetland Lodge, a club.

The area of what Tanjong Pagar is now was said to be initially a fishing village called Salinter.[1]

Since 1600s, 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-19th century.

Tanjong Pagar (Jawi: تنجوڠ ڤاڬر) in Malay means "cape of stakes", possibly due to kelongs (offshore fishing traps constructed using wooden stakes and cross pieces) along the coast from the village of Tanjong Malang till Tanjong Pagar.[1] In George Drumgoole Coleman's 1836 Map of the Town, there is a road, Tanjong Passar, from South Bridge Road to the fishing village and there is a possibility that Tanjong Pagar is a corruption of the Tanjong Passar.[1]

According to the Malay Annals, the villages along the coast of Singapore was constantly attacked by shoals of swordfish.[1] The Sri Maharajah, on the advice of a boy, Hang Nadim, built a defensive structure of banana stems along the coastal side of the villages which trapped the swordfishes as they attacked the villages.[1]

During the 1820s, a man who had unsuccessfully stabbed William Farquhar with a kris, Sayid Yasin, had his corpse placed in chains in an iron cage and exhibited publicly at Tanjong Malang for a fortnight as punishment for the stabbing. His grave later became a shrine and a place of pilgrimage for many years.[2][3]

In the 1850s, when shipping activities increased, the Tanjong Pagar Dock Company was formed in 1864 along with wharves being built along the coast.[1] This led to the possibly naming the area as Tanjong Pagar where Tanjong means "cape" and pagar means "fence" or enclosed space as the ships are moored in the wharves.[1] Tanjong Pagar likely refer to the general area of PSA Gate 3 near the Victoria Dock.[1]

Tanjong Pagar Road is known as tan jiong pa kat in Hokkien (Min Nan), which is phonetic.

Points of interest[edit]

Tras Street[edit]

The street name "Tras Street" dates from an 1898 municipal resolution to "use names of rivers and districts in the Malay Peninsula as being better adapted to the purpose [of naming streets] than the names of persons or families."[citation needed]

Tras Street today is a thriving night spot featuring many pubs, clubs and KTV bars.

Cantonment Road[edit]

Cantonment Road got its name from the contingent of Indian sepoys stationed here in 1819. They had accompanied Sir Stamford Raffles to Singapore and were asked to stay. In India, the English term for permanent military accommodation, as established by the sepoys, is "cantonment".

The local Cantonese had another name for Cantonment Road. They called it Ba Suo Wei, meaning "end of Bukit Pasoh".[4]

Outram Road, which used to be part of Cantonment Road, only became a separate thoroughfare in 1853. The old Chinese name for Outram was Si Pai Po, meaning "sepoy's field", referring to the former sepoy presence in the area during colonial days.

Duxton Hill[edit]

Duxton Hill was the site of a nutmeg plantation owned by Dr J.W. Montgomerie (1797–1856), who was an Assistant Surgeon in the service of the Government.

Dr J.W. Montgomerie, the first owner of Duxton Hill, cultivated nutmeg plantations on its slopes. Montgomerie died in 1856 and his land on Duxton was auctioned off. Fourteen acres went to Arab Syed Abdullah bin Omar Aljunied, who divided them into four lots which were leased to wealthy Chinese developers.

By the 1890s, the developers had built two- and three-storey shophouses in Duxton Hill and the more affluent Chinese moved to the area.

Tanjong Pagar Plaza[edit]

The Tanjong Pagar Plaza is an HDB residential development completed in 1977.

Along the stretch of Tanjong Pagar Road, there is a semi-circle portion of road where it used to be called Cheng Cheok Street.[5] Due to the shape of the road, the Hokkiens called the street gu kak hang, meaning "the ox's horns".[5] The Cheng Cheok Street was named after Khoo Cheng Cheok, who is believed to be the brother of rice merchant Khoo Cheng Tiong who is the president of the Thong Chai Medical Institution.[5]

As the street is the shape of a semi-circle and both ends connected to Tanjong Pagar Road,[5] it was eventually renamed as part of Tanjong Pagar Road. On this stretch, there used to be pre-war shophouses before it was demolished and Tanjong Pagar Plaza, a commercial complex, was built over the original site.[1]

Railway transport[edit]

The Tanjong Pagar railway station.

The Malaysian railway company (Keretapi Tanah Melayu) ran trains to a terminal railway station here. Three daily train ran to Kuala Lumpur and other trains served other parts of Malaysia.

Following an agreement between Malaysia and Singapore on 24 May 2010, the station ceased operation on 1 July 2011. KTM's southern terminus is now at the Woodlands Train Checkpoint near the causeway.

The Singaporean government has promised to conserve the Tanjong Pagar railway station building and may integrate it into future developments on the site.

Maxwell Food Centre[edit]

The Maxwell Food Centre dates back to pre-war days as a fresh food market and food centre. In 1986, it was converted into a food centre, housing hawkers from the vicinity. The present existing hawker centre was renovated in 2001. Stallholders are mainly those from the essentially Cantonese neighbourhood, with many from the famed food street, China Street. A wide variety of authentic local favourites are available at Maxwell Food Centre, with slight Cantonese bent. Popular dishes include hum chim peng (a crusty fried pancake), ngor hiong or five spices meat roll of Hokkien origin, and herbal broths made from home-brewed recipes.

Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre[edit]

The Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre (TAPAC) housed arts full-time and part-time groups of different cultural traditions and art disciplines, and had the distinction of being the first property to be acquired under the National Arts Council's Arts Housing Scheme in 1985. It was located at Cecil Street next to Tanjong Pagar MRT station.[6]

Little Korea[edit]

Tanjong Pagar has been greatly influenced by Korean culture in recent years and has earned the nickname of Little Korea and Koreatown. As many as 15 Korean food outlets have sprung up in a 300 m stretch of Tanjong Pagar Road near Duxton Hill over the last few years. Apart from Korean eateries, there are also many wedding boutiques along Tanjong Pagar Road and at least three wedding boutiques there offer Korean-themed wedding photography.

AIA Tanjong Pagar[edit]

AIA Tanjong Pagar

AIA Tanjong Pagar Building, built in 1920, recently restored to former glory. It is located at the junction between Neil Road and Keong Saik Road. AIA Tanjong Pagar Building houses the "American Insurance Agency".[7]

Tanjong Pagar Centre[edit]

The Tanjong Pagar Centre was completed in 2016 and is the tallest building in Singapore.[8]

One Bernam[edit]

One Bernam is a newly constructed condominium type 35-storeys tower containing 351 residential units.[9]


Currently, the entire place is divided between Tanjong Pagar GRC and Jalan Besar GRC. Both of them are under the ruling party, PAP.

The western part of Tanjong Pagar is mainly located in the Tanjong Pagar-Tiong Bahru division of Tanjong Pagar GRC. Since the electoral ward was created in 1955, Lee Kuan Yew of the People's Action Party served as its Member of Parliament until his death on 23 March 2015. Lee's replacement is Indranee Thurai Rajah, whose Tanglin-Cairnhill ward was later halved into Henderson-Dawson and Moulmein-Cairnhill.

The eastern half of the area is also located in the Kreta Ayer-Kim Seng division of Jalan Besar GRC whose MP is Josephine Teo since 2020, replacing Lily Neo. It was part of Tanjong Pagar GRC from 2011 to 2015.

In media[edit]

  • Last Train from Tanjong Pagar, 2014. Epigram Books (Singapore) ISBN 9789810769208, 9810769202[10]
  • Singapore Shophouse Walks: Chinatown, Blair Plain, Duxton Hill, Tanjong Pagar. Kildi Photo (Singapore) ISBN 9789811436406, 9811436401[11]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Savage 2013, p. 863-864.
  2. ^ Philippart, John (1823). The East India Military Calendar: Containing the Services of General and Field Officers of the Indian Army. Vol. 2. London: Kingsbury, Parbury and Allen. p. 561. Retrieved 6 May 2022.
  3. ^ "The British Base and Prison on the Island of Singapore".
  4. ^ Savage 2013, p. 144.
  5. ^ a b c d Savage 2013, p. 166.
  6. ^ "Telok Ayer Performing Arts Centre, wall mural : general view [1] | PictureSG". eresources.nlb.gov.sg. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  7. ^ "AIA Tanjong Pagar | PictureSG". eresources.nlb.gov.sg. Retrieved 20 March 2021.
  8. ^ Whang, Rennie (14 January 2016). "Tanjong Pagar Centre: New tallest building in Singapore after 20 years". The Straits Times.
  9. ^ "One Bernam | Tanjong Pagar, Nearby Tanjong Pagar MRT". One Bernam | Luxury Condo along Bernam Street at Tanjong Pagar. Retrieved 20 March 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  10. ^ Teng, Koh Hong (2014). Last Train from Tanjong Pagar. Epigram Books. ISBN 978-981-07-6920-8.
  11. ^ Kildisheva, Tatyana; Iyer, Jane; Trench, Shona; Pasquale, Joanne (2019). Singapore Shophouse Walks: Chinatown, Blair Plain, Duxton Hill, Tanjong Pagar. Kildi Photo. ISBN 978-981-14-3640-6.

Works cited[edit]

External links[edit]

  • National Heritage Board (2002), Singapore's 100 Historic Places, Archipelago Press, ISBN 981-4068-23-3