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Tanjong Pagar Neighbourhood History

Tanjong Pagar is one of 13 subzones within the Downtown Core planning area, as demarcated by the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA). The subzone spans the Outram planning area and Downtown Core Singapore, sharing borders with the Cecil, Maxwell, and Anson subzones.

Its history dates back to the 19th century when it was a humble fishing town along the sea. However, the are multiple theories explaining how Tanjong Pagar got its name.

The first theory build’s on fishing as the area’s primary economic activity from the 1600s to the 19th century. According to historical records, present-day Tanjong Pager went by the name Salinter and natives in the area used traditional fishing traps made from wooden stakes to trap fish. However, Tanjong Pager loosely translates to the “cape of stakes” in Malay, and some historians posit that the subzone got its name from the fishing traps set hundreds of years ago.

A second theory posits that the fishing village was located within a short distance of a major road to its south called Tanjong Pagar and got its name from the road.

Tanjong Pagar was always a fishing village, but fishing activity in the area spiked around the 1850s, attracting migrants to the area. Moreover, the area hosts a naturally deep harbour, which became the ideal location for a docking company established in 1869 called the Tanjong Pagar docking company. Tanjong Pagar also translates to “enclosed cape,” so the third theory is that the village’s name describes the dock.

The docking company was instrumental in transforming Tanjong Pagar into a thriving economy, attracting dock workers from China and India who settled in the area. At the turn of the century, wealthy Chinese and Arab merchants also took notice of the area and bought large tracts of land in Tanjong Pagar, causing a spike in the area’s real estate prices.

Besides a spike in land prices, the late 1800s and early 1900s also saw the rise of shophouses built to house Tanjong Pagar residents. Fast-forward to 1980, Tanjong Pagar became the first area in Singapore, gazetted under the government conservation plan. The conservation plan entailed restoration projects that transformed the existing shophouses and the Tanjong Pagar railway station building constructed in 1932 to their original state.

Consequently, present-day Tanjong Pagar is popular as a historical town. Besides its rich historical heritage, Tanjong Pagar is also a cultural hub home to the Telok Ayer Performing Arts Center.

The unique factor about Tanjong Pagar is that it is a place of contrasts where century-old shophouses coexist alongside magnificent contemporary architecture like the Tanjong Pagar Centre, Singapore’s tallest building. Moreover, the subzone is a thriving commercial centre in District 2 Singapore, enjoying proximity to Singapore CBD.

Tanjong Pagar’s extensive road and rail networks make it easy to navigate and commute. Such transport systems include the Tanjong Pagar MRT, Ayer-Rajah Expressway, Central Expressway, and Marina Coastal Expressway.

The once humble fishing town of Tanjong Pagar is now a thriving metropolis, hosting outstanding commercial and residential developments. Residents living in the region also enjoy social amenities, including schools, shopping malls, parks, and food markets.