Raffles Place Walkabout
Start at Raffles Place MRT


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, Momentum, Ocean Building, Clifford Pier, Fullerton Building, Battery Road and much more.

Tours: The whole journey is about 2.4 kms, you may just take part of the trail and come back again to continue. This walkabout will begin right after the map below. Click here to skip History.

History: 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 The two- to four-storey buildings of mercantile houses, banks and shops that once characterised Raffles Place, have been replaced by high-rise tower blocks.

Exit at Raffles Place MRT (opened 12 December 1987) Exit A or B. On street level you will see a green open space in between One Raffles Place and Chevron House (formerly Caltex House, 1993), welcome to ...

1. Commercial Square. In Sir Stamford Raffles 1822 town plan this is Singapore’s first commercial center. Built on reclaimed land along the Singapore River, it became the business district for all communities. It was renamed Raffles Place on 8 March 1858. Vehicular traffic was banned from entering the area in the sixties. Until the seventies, it was a retail and shopping hub. This rectangular centre of Raffles Place was often referred to as Raffles Square. During World War II, on 8 December 1941, Japanese planes made Raffles Place one their targets of destruction. The next major disaster was on 20 November when the Robinson's Department Store fire completely destroyed one of Sigapore's legendary landmarks.

Proceed to The Arcade, opposite The Arcade (behind you) is Republic Plaza, one of the tallest skyscrapers in Singapore, built at 280 metres tall completed in 1995 incorporating earthquake proof features.

2. The Arcade or the Alkaff Arcade, a four-storey development, was built in 1909 by the Alkaff family. It was Singapore's first indoor shopping centre stretching from Collyer Quay to Raffles Place and was the tallest building along Collyer Quay as it rose aboe the old godowns. This site was formerly owned by Guthrie and Co. The Alkaff sold the Arcade in 1962 to Singapura Developments for $12 million. It made way for a 17-floor shopping-cum-office building and was demolished in 1978. A new Arcade was completed in 1981.

On the open green space, in front of The Arcade you will see a sculpture "Pioneering Spirit" (also known as Vitality of the Forerunner - installed Dec 1987), a sculpture by Aw Tee Hong.

3. One Raffles Place formerly OUB Centre. It was the tallest building in the world outside North America at the time of its completeion in 1986. OUB opened its first office on this site in what was then Meyer Chambers on 5 February 1949. A new commercial 38 floors tower was constructed next to the existing tower, opend in 2011, also at this time the complex was officially renamed One Raffles Place.

On the open green space, in front of One Raffles Place you will see a sculpture "Struggle for Survival" in the shape of a boat by Aw Tee Hong - installed Dec 1987. He is a Hainan-born local sculptor.

4. Progress & Advancement sculpture by Taiwanese sculptor Yang Ying Feng. It was commissioned and presented by Mr. Lien Ying Chow on 8.8.1988. It weighs 9 metric tonnes and has a height of 8.5 m. ed around the exits of Raffles Place MRT so that the passengers would be greeted by them as they leave the exits. These sculptures were installed as part of the opening of the Raffles Place MRT to public in 1988.

Cross the road to UOB Plaza. Chulia Street is named after Indian immigrants from the Coromandal Coast of South India, Chulia Street was originally lined with Indian shops. It is now dominated by UOB Plaza and the OCBC Centre.

5. UOB Plaza (大华银行大厦) This is one of the three tallest in the city, sharing the title with the One Raffles Place and Republic Plaza. On 6 August 1935, Sarawak-born Datuk Wee Kheng Chiang and his friends founded the United Chinese Bank (UCB). On 1 October 1935, UCB opened for business in the three-storeyd Bonham Building (3-storey building). In 1965, UCB changed its name to United Overseas Bank.To meet the Bank’s expansion needs, Bonham Building was knocked down for a larger building in its place. On 19 October 1974, UOB Plaza Two was officially opened. In 1995, the twin-tower UOB Plaza 1 was officially opened. The building was opened by then Senior Minister Lee Kuan Yew in 1995. UOB Plaza Tower 2 stands on the same site occupied by the Bank since its founding in 1935.

At the atrium of UOB Plaza, you can find a bronze sculpture "Homage To Newton". In the 17th century, Sir Isaac Newton discovered the law of gravity. Legend tells us that the origin of this most important & fundamental physical law was initiated by the falling of an apple, represented in the present work, done by Salvador Dali, by the ball falling from the right hand. The sculpture was placed at this spot to create balance and harmony in business.

6. OCBC Centre. Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Limited (OCBC Bank) was formed on 31 October 1932 in the midst of the Great Depression (1929-33) to serve the local community. Originally housed in China Building on Chulia Street, OCBC Bank was a familiar landmark in the business district with its distinctive roof in the traditional style of the temples of Peking. In the 1970s, the China Building was torn down for the development of the 52-storey OCBC Centre.

Beside OCBC Centre, you should see a huge sculpture "Reclining Figure" by the British sculptore Henry Moore.

7. Yueh Hai Ching Temple (粤海清庙) present builiding was built in the 1850s. Used by Teochew traders and sailors to thank the gods for their safety at sea. It was started in 1826 by the Teochew community, a shrine dedicated to Tian Hou, the Goddess of the Sea, ws established on Philip Street which was a coastal area back then. It is the oldest Taoist temple. Chinese Emperor Guang Xu presented a plaque to the temple in 1907. It has been maintained by Ngee Ann Kongsi since 1845. This temple will receive the Unesco Asia-Pacific Cultural Heritage Conservation Award of Merit at a ceremony on 24 April 2015.

Walk towards The Quadrant, along the way you will come across GSH Plaza (former Equity Plaza also formerly known as The Exchage and The Quadrant; Cecil Street (named after Governor Sir Cecil Clementi Smith who was Governor of the Straits Settlements between 1887 and 1893;

8. The Quadrant at Cecil has a storied past stretching back over 80 years, a builidng which began life in the 1930s as the regional headquarters for the Kwangtung Provincial Bank in Singapore, and after World War II, as the headquarters of the Four Seas Bank.

9. Capitagreen, completed sometime in the fourth quarter of 2014, is an ultra-modern 40-storey Grade A office tower that occupies the site of the former Market Street Car Park built in 1963. This car park is a triangular block of decks that not only serves as parking space but also houses some shops and offices, closed permanently from 30 June 2011.

10. Sofitel So Singapore opened in June 2013 was the site of the former "The Ogilvy", before that was "TAS Building" built in 1927. Built on 1,859 square metres of reclaimed land, its neo-classical architecture was designed by architect FG Lundon of the firm Swan and Maclaren. To preserve this important part of Singapore’s telecommunication and postal heritage, the Telecommunication Authority of Singapore has refurbished the building and its large iconic columns and recessed balconies to their original form, re-opened on April 1, 1995.

SGX Centre houses the Singapore Exchange Centre. SGX Centre One and Two was completed in 2000, and 2001 respectively.

11. Lau Pa Sat ("old market" in Hokkien) also know colloquially as Telok Ayer Market. Its trademark octagonal shape in Victorian style was first built sometime in 1825. The market was rebuilt under G. D. Coleman in 1833 because the original structure was considered unsafe. In 1879 the market was demolished as a result of the land reclamation project at Telok Ayer Basin. Telok Ayer Market was completed in 1894 designed by James MacRitchie. In 1972 as commercial activity around it made a wet market redundant, it was renovated and turned into a food centre. In 1996 Lau Pa Sat was re-opened as a 24-hour food court after Kopi Tiam had invested another S$4 million. Opposite Telok Ayer Market stood Telok Ayer Police Station designed by Sir Henry McCallum and the building was demolished in 1957 and the first multi-storey car park was built on the site.

Hong Leong Building was designed by Swan and Maclaren and was completed in 1976. At the time of its completion, the building was one of the tallest commercial developments in Singapore's Central Business District. One Raffles Quay designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox was purpose-built for banking and financial corporations in August 2006.

12. Ascott Singapore Raffles Pl, formerly known as Asia Insurance Building, it used to be the tallest building in Southeast Asia in the 1950s. In 2008, the office tower was lovingly restored and converted into a premier serviced residence for the global traveller. Great care was taken to retain the historical charm through the preservation of as many original features of the builing as possible including the crown at thet op of the building which was installed to mark the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953, that is why this building in the past was affectionately referred to as "the Queen".

13. Momentum sculpture (2007) by David Gerstein. The sculpture’s layers upon layers of figures in an upward spiral motion represent the population’s high energy and a continuous cycle of progress. This work pays tribute to Singapore’s present and past generations, for without their toil, strength and ingenuity, Singapore will not have become the dynamic metropolis it is today. The sculpture signals the vision, continual commitment by everyone to help steer Singapore into a vibrant global city.

14. Ocean Financial Cetre (2014) built on the site of the former Ocean Building completed in 1972, Ocean Towers on adjacent site was added in 1992, the original two storey building on this site was completed in 1864. Before the completion of Fullerton Building, Mansfield Office (later Ocean Building) was used as the General Post Office. In 1919, it was demolished to make way for the second Ocean Building. Completed in 1924, this five storey building was a famous Singapore landmark for almost half a century. During the Japanese occupation of Singapore, in the 1940's, it served as the nerve centre of the para- military air detachment of the Japanese Armed Forces. The second building was demolished in 1969, to make way for the previous 29
storey Ocean Building. Again it was deconstructed from end 2007 to mid 2008, and replaced by the Ocean Financial Centre.

15. Change Alley in the 1920s, was not yet a famous tourist place, rather a recognised meeting place for European buyers and Asiatic brokers. From the 1940s, Change Alley was swarmed by bargain-hunting servicemen and tourists. The mixture of cramped and dingy shops and stalls offered everything from clothes, batik cloth, bags, brief cases, watches, toys, fishing accessories to handicrafts and other souvenirs. The money-changers, many of them Indian Muslims, ran their business within their own little retail shops. On Sunday 30 April 1989, the shops in Change Alley opened for the last time. Change Alley is now a modern, sanitised building complex of shops and offices.

16. Clifford Pier was previously known as Johnston's Pier and was located opposite Fullerton Square, the Pier was built in 1854. A red oil lamp was hanged at the end of the pier to warn ships in the harbour, which was why it was known as Lampu Merah ‘red lamp’ in Malay or "red lamp harbour" in Chinese (Ang Teng Bei Tao) in those early days. The Pier was named after A. Laurie Johnston, who arrived in Singapore in 1820, as Singapore's first magistrates. He founded one of the first commercial companies, A.L. Johnston & Co. In 1933, Johnston's Pier was demolished, to give way to the former Clifford Pier. This was the landing point of sea passengers and immigrants who came to seek greener pastures in Singapore. It was named after Governor Sir Hugh Charles Clifford of the Straits Settlements. All ferry and launch services moved to Marina South Pier on 1 April 2006.

HSBC Building (21 storey high) replaced the old building that was demolished in 1979.

17. The Fullerton Hotel can be assessed via an underpass at One Fullerton. The Fullerton Hotel, formerly known as Fullerton Building. Opened in 1928, it was named after Sir Robert Fullerton, the first Governor of the Straits Settlements (1826-1829). This building stands on the site of the former Fort Fullerton, built in 1829 to defend the settlement against attacks from the sea. The Fullerton Building initially housed the General Post Office, the Exchange and the Singapore Town Club. During the last days before the British Surrender, it was converted into a hospital. In the mid-1990s, the Fullerton Building took on a new role after being conserved and renovated to become a luxury hotel. The Fullerton Singapore was officially opened on 1 January 2001.

Maybank Tower (completed in 2001).

18. Bank of China Building The Bank of China Building is a development consisting of two skyscrapers located in the central business district of Singapore. It is located on 4 Battery Road, adjacent to 6 Battery Road, Maybank Tower,[4] and roughly 100 metres from the Fullerton Hotel.[5] The Tower serves as the headquarters for the Bank of China.[6] The old block of the Bank of China Building was built in 1954 with a total of 18 floors. It was designed by P & T Architects & Engineers Ltd (otherwise known as Palmer and Turner) of Hong Kong.[7] The pair of lions guarding the entrance is a work by Rudolfo Nolli. The block was the tallest building in the central business district of Singapore, Raffles Place from 1954 till 1974, when it was overtaken by UOB Plaza Two.[8] The additional new block was completed in 2000.[9] With 36 floors and a height of 168 metres it is built immediately adjacent to the old block and shares a common podium.[10].

19. Straits Trading Building The original Straits Trading Building in Singapore, developed in 1969 and completed in 1972, was one of the earliest urban renewal projects in post-independence Singapore. The 21-storey structure was also the first high-rise building in the Central Business District. The building was redeveloped in 2009 into a modern, 28-storey structure that houses the Group's head office today.

The road beside you is Battery Road (19) . It is named after the battery of nine 68 -pounder guns that used to guard Fort Fullerton, where Fullerton Hotel is today. The fort and the guns were demolished in 1873..

20. 6 Battery Road formerly the Standard Chartered Bank Building, is a high-rise skyscraper located in the central business district of Singapore. It is located on 6 Battery Road, in Raffles Place. The tower is situated adjacent to the Bank of China Building[5] and faces the Singapore River. It is a class-A office building, and houses offices of several multi-national companies. The development has a net floor area of 46,060 sqm as at 30 June 2007. At its completion, it was the largest building for the Standard Chartered Bank worldwide and also represented the largest single investment by a British company. The building is on a 999-year leasehold. 6 Battery Road was designed by P & T Architects & Engineers Ltd and RSP Architects Planners & Engineers Private Limited, and was completed in 1984. Other firms involved in the development included CapitaLand Commercial Limited, Clover Properties Private Limited, Hazama Gumi, CapitaLand Limited, Lighting Design Partnership, Meinhardt (Singapore) Private Limited, and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood LLP. he building was officially opened on 24 October 1984 by Lord Barber, then chairman of the Standard Chartered Bank Group as the anchor tenant. The building's 1st, 20th, 21st, 43rd, and 44th floors underwent renovation, which was completed in March 2002.

Opposite building is Singapore Land Tower, a 48storey 190 m skyscraper, construction completed in 1980, than known as Shell Tower.

Information is correct as at 05 July 2015. Please visit the destination website for latest updates.