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Development of Queenstown, Singapore’s first satellite town 1952

Before World War II, Queenstown was home to hundreds of people living in attap huts (a type of traditional housing with its walls and roof made from the leaves of the attap palm). The locals depended on cultivating vegetables, growing fruits, and rearing pigs and chicken for their livelihoods. A British military camp, known as Buller Camp, used to be located at Alexandra Road. The camp site was cleared for the construction of low-cost flats, which were completed in May 1953.[1]

The Queenstown housing estate was one of the earliest housing estates to be developed by the former Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) in 1952.[2] Queenstown is the first satellite new town in Singapore, and was named after Queen Elizabeth II to mark her coronation.[3] Queenstown comprised the areas between Alexandra Road, Ridout Road and the Malayan railway line near Tanglin Halt.[4] It was estimated at the time that the housing programme in Queenstown would need five years to complete at a cost of about $80 million.[5] It was envisaged that the satellite town would have amenities such as shops, schools, factories, playing fields, cinemas, churches, libraries, markets, as well as other community and public buildings.[6]

Although the development of Queenstown was initiated by the SIT in 1952, the estate was subsequently completed by SIT’s successor, the Housing and Development Board (HDB), in the early 1970s.[7] A major part of the town was developed during the first Five-Year Building Programme (1960–1965). Between the years 1952 and 1968, a total of 19,372 housing units were built in the area.[8]

1. Urban Redevelopment Authority (Singapore). (1994). Queenstown planning area: Planning report 1994 (p. 8). Singapore: The Authority. Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN; Estate named for princess. (1953, August 6). The Straits Times, p. 4; The 8-ft. flats are opened. (1953, May 27). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. Wong, A. K., & Yeh, S. H. K. (Eds.). (1985). Housing a nation: 25 years of public housing in Singapore (p. 92). Singapore: Published by Maruzen Asia for Housing & Development Board. Call no.: RSING 36.5095957 HOU.
3. New Town for 70,000. (1953, September 28). The Straits Times, p. 1; What’s in a name? (2005, August 9). The Straits Times, p. 114. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. New town for 70,000. (1953, September 28). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. The Straits Times, 28 Sep 1953, p. 1.
6. The Straits Times, 28 Sep 1953, p. 1. 
7. Wong  & Yeh, 1985, p. 92.
8. Urban Redevelopment Authority, 1994, p. 8.


The information in this article is valid as at 2014 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

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