The river flows from its mouth at Anderson Bridge of the Central Area stretching to Kim Seng Bridge at the other end. This river is closely tied to the country’s economy, history and social culture thus making it one of the most important factors to the success story of Singapore.
The fortune of this small fishing village and settlement changed when Sir Stamford Raffles landed along the banks on 28 January 1819. A quick transformation occurs after the remote area was declared as a free trading port. Immigrants from China, India and other neighboring countries came to seek fortune and settled near the banks. In 1823 the first quay was built on Boat Quay a commercial centre where barge lighters transport goods upstream to the warehouses at Clarke Quay. Commerce boomed along the jetty, the trading made way for finance and banking to grow and high-value services transpire.
The rapid economic development and the urban renewal along Singapore River caused an intense surge of traffic over the years that lead to congestion and pollution. In 1977, Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew put an ambitious project for the government – to clean up of the Singapore River and Kallang Basin. As a part of the plan infrastructures were built – hotels, houses, industrial workshops, sewages and other recreational establishments.
After 10 years the massive purification and development project was completed. A 6km promenade and river-wall was constructed. The old quays were turned into entertainment zones – al fresco dining, live music, disco- dancing and shopping, thus offering a multi-sensory lifestyle experience.
Exploring the Singapore River provides an in-depth look at its rich history and the life of the early settlers. There are two routes to take that would surely allow visitors to capture the essence of the area. Each route showcases different aspects of the country’s historic beginning and it current judicial, civil, commercial and cultural heart.
Route 1 – the Rafflesian Legacy, within this route are the Esplanade, an avant-garde performing arts and entertainment centre; the waterfront promenade and a vast of historical landmarks such as the Tan Kim Seng Fountain, Cenotaph, Lim Bo Seng Memorial. Along this route is the Anderson Bridge, the Dalhousei Obelisk, the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles and his landing site, the Elgin Bridge, Boat Qauy, the world known Asian Civilisation Museum, the Cavenagh Bridge and the magnificent Fullerton Hotel.
Route 2 – the River Celebration, structures here are mostly play an important part in the bloom of Singapore. Along the river is St. Andrew Cathedral, the oldest Anglican house of worship, Civilian War Memorial, City Hall and the Supreme Court – the buildings are significant symbols of the end of World War II in Singapore. There is also the Padang, the Old Parliament House, The Art House, the newest art and lifestyle area in the city. There are also quaint emporiums and bazaars along the way. Also seen in this route is the Neo-Classical architecture of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. This theatre was constructed in 1863 for the memory of Queen Victoria.
Marvel at the sights of Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, the landmark of the Merlion Park and Parliament House. Enjoy the river cruise in a bumboat, the reverse bungy and the weekend flea market at Clarke Quay.
Truly the river’s role in the economy of Singapore has shifted away from one that of trade towards artistic taste for the commercial zone and accommodation role for tourism.