Orchard Road, from its earliest malls

The Tang who to Orchard was called Choon Keng, better known by his initials, CK Tang. In 1932, a then 32 year old Tang, made enough from his door-to-door salesman job to set up his own departmental store selling crafts from China. His store grew and grew.

In 1958, CK Tang bought a huge spot of land along Orchard Road to set up a branch of his departmental store in Orchard Road. His contemporaries thought him mad, what sort of Chinese business man would build a store facing a cemetery (the Tai Shan Ting Cemetery, what sat on what is present day Wisma Atria,  Mandarin Hotel and Ngee Ann City and Cathay Cinelesiure)?

Orchard Road 2Tangs is to the left, the cemetery is on the right of the image, streetching to the building in the centre and a little beyond.

Tang however had bigger fish to fry. He reasoned that the rich caucasians living up the road in Tanglin would want to shop at a nice store near their home. And he was to be proven right.

Tangs still stand today with its iconic Chinese style building structure.

Tangs OrchardSource

The cemeteries on the other hand have become famous malls.

Orchard Road 4

A large green patch was once situated next to Wisma Atria (to the right side of the image above) it is now the ION Orchard.

Orchard Road 9

Before Tang’s built his store in the centre of Orchard Road, the Singapore Cold Storage built their first store in 1905 south of Orchard Road (where Centre Point is today).

Singapore Cold StorageSource


The store eventually started selling diary products (ice cream) and was called the Cold Storage Milk Bar, it became a focal point with city folk.

Then there was the Fitpatrick’s Supermarket.

Fitzpatricks SingaporeSource

It is now this, the Paragon.

Orchard Road 5Adjacent to the Paragon is the Park Hotel Orchard, formerly the Crown Prince Hotel, owned by the Bruneian royalty.

Orchard Road 6Opposite this is the a new set of malls, such as Orchard Central, 313 Somerset and others.

Orchard Road 7 Orchard Road 8Further down south is the Istana, the present palace of the President of Singapore.

Istana 1Moving in the opposite direction from Tangs, are a series of what seems like slightly older buildings. They are older because they were built in the 1970s to 80s and came after the rebuilt buildings we just covered.

One of the big malls is the Isetan building, or Shaw Building built by the precursor of Shaw Organisation, Shaw Brothers Studio, once a huge film distributor in Singapore (with a local film production site in Balestier Road).

Orchard Road 10Then there are other buildings like Wheelock Place, that was once popular for being home to the book company Borders.

Orchard Road 1Further down on both sides are other buildings, including the International Plaza, Far East Shopping Centre, Delfi Orchard and Orchard Towers. Also interesting is the fact that many of the roads up the north end of Orchard have Scottish names (eg. Claymore Road), I reckon in a nod to the Scottish influence in Singapore.

These shops represent a way of shopping more similar to Singapore in the 1970s and 80s.Orchard Road 11 Orchard Road 12 Orchard Road 13 Orchard Road 14Orchard Towers (fourth picture) has a much sleazier reputation, as a building where the lust industry appeals (particularly to caucasians).

Orchard Road 3You are in Singapore, so don’t find it funny that Orchard Towers sits almost opposite from the Forum, a young kid’s heaven.

Orchard Road 15And who says Singapore is boring?

How to get there


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