|Raffles Place Walkabout will take you through Commercial Square, Struggle for Survival, Pioneering Spirit, OUB Centre, Progress & Advancement, United Overseas Bank, Homage To Newton, Chulia Street, Reclining Figure, Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited, Yueh Hai Ching Temple, TAS Building, Telok Ayer Market, Progressive Flow, Momentum, Ocean Building, Clifford Pier, Fullerton Building, Battery Road, Dual Universe.
In his 1822 town plan, Sir Stamford Raffles envisioned Singapore's first commercial centre. Located next to the busy river, Commercial Square was developed between 1823 and 1824. The hillock between Battery Road and the Square was removed, and the marshy swamps filled in, drained and leveled.
The area was then laid out, planted with trees and flowers in the centre, and named Commercial Square. The early name for this centre of commerce was "Hua Hooi Kak" or "Flower Garden Corner", because it was so attractive. It became the business district for all communities. Commercial Square was renamed Raffles Place in 1858.
At that time, merchants could look across the newly built sea wall at Collyer Quay to keep an eye on their ships. This square used to contain many splendid 2- to 4-storeyed buildings, including the John Little Department Store. (John Little's decorative gable has been imitated for the entrances to the Raffles Place MRT station.) Many of these buildings bore the handiwork of G.D. Coleman.
Shady flame trees, ponies, rickshaw-pullers and Bengali coffee vendors used to fill in the rest of the canvas at the beginning of the 19th century. Then offices along Collyer Quay had elongated verandahs along the sea-front.
Until the seventies, it was a retail and shopping hub. Today, Raffles Place is a financial centre housing the headquarters of major banks. The two- to four-storey buildings of mercantile houses, banks and shops that once characterised Raffles Place, have been replaced by high-rise tower blocks.
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