Singapore River – A Story about Change

After moving to my new apartment, I started my morning walk along Singapore River.  I personally love walking as it helps to clear my mind and energise me both mentally and physically.

The morning view along Singapore River is beautiful and calm. The pedestrian paths along the River bank are fully connected by bridges and underpasses without having to cross the road.  The Singapore River starts from Kim Seng Road and ends at Esplanade.  If you are visiting Singapore and would like to have a glimpse of the life in Singapore, it is worth taking a morning walk along the Singapore River as you would pass by both the residential area and the central business district.  You will see office professionals making their way to work on their scoot or bicycles, mothers bringing their young children to school, people exercising or walking their dogs, etc.  By evening, this similar stretch along Singapore River would turn vibrant where you will see diners everywhere.

Clark Quay

A friend from US was in Singapore for business. She joined me for a morning walk along the Singapore River.  We met for breakfast along the Robertson Quay and I walked her to Esplanade (near the hotel she was staying) after our breakfast. We had a lovely walk though the weather was getting a bit hot.


Brief History of Singapore River

Singapore River is located within the Central Region, about 3.2 kilometers long and has been the lifeline of Singapore for more than 150 years. The mouth of the Singapore River saw the beginnings of an ancient fishing village, Temasek, later renamed Singapura (in Malay means “Lion City”) by Sang Nila Utama, and in modern times founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles in 1819.

Economic activity and opportunity centred here attracted thousands of immigrants. Some set up businesses here and or lived by or around this vibrant waterway and became Singapore River Communities. The first quay was built in 1823 on today’s Boat Quay, where major companies first set-up in Singapore. Trade growth in the 1860s, gradually extended upstream where Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay were developed, and by the late 1890s, there were go-downs, ricemills, sawmills, Chinese-owned boat-yards, and an assortment of other trades and home industries.  This humble river was pressed into service until the 1970s when shipping trade was moved and the river underwent a metamorphosis.

The River divided Singapore into the ‘commercial’ and ‘government’ sectors, and before the construction of bridges, the two sides were linked by row-boats operated by Indians. The “River Clean-up Campaign”, which began in September 1983, saw the last of a few hundred small boats on their final journey out of the river. Today, converted bumboats operate as river-taxis which carry sightseeing passengers.

The Singapore River is a story about change, of how a river contributed to the success of Singapore.

Singapore River Map.png
Map from Street Directory


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2 thoughts on “Singapore River – A Story about Change

  1. There is a book written by Christine Lim, known as the River’s Story, which revolves around the singapore river and its changes. In case anyone is interested, one of the author’s best selling books.

    Liked by 1 person

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