Kallang, estate, located within the Central Region, and bounded by the north-eastern boundary of the Central Area, the Central Expressway, the Pan Island Expressway, the proposed Kallang Expressway, Mountbatten Road and the East Coast Parkway; covering 9 subzones, and a total area of approximately 920.7 ha. Some of Singapore's earliest settlers lived in this area. They were primitive boat-dwellers. Their descendants still live in the area today. A landmark for a long time here is the Kallang Gas Works.
The Biduanda Orang Kallang, a people group found in Java, constituted at least 50% of the 1000 residents found in Singapore at the time of Raffles' landing. They were a shy, primitive river people who were boat-dwellers, and had lived in the swamps at the mouth of the Kallang River, which thereafter took on their name. After 1824, the Kallang people were relocated to Pulai River by the Temenggong of Johore, when Singapore was ceded to Britain. There were about a hundred families, but in 1847, the small pox disease reduced them to merely 8 families.
In the 1835 G. D. Coleman Map of Singapore, a long stretch of the coast along Kallang was in sand and mud with mangrove marsh and swamp land blanketing the Kallang Basin. Coleman's map also shows a Bugis Village between the Rochore and Kelang Rivers. A road called Kampong Bugis exists and marks the area. In the early days, Bugis Traders unloaded their cargoes from their sail boats here. The Orang Bugis also lived on the opposite side of Kallang Road on Padang Jeringau and Kampong Soo Poo (now gone with the development of Kallang Bahru Industrial estate). Some of the Bugis can trace their family origins to The Celebes (Sulawesi). In the early 1930s, extensive filling and reclamation took place for the construction of Kallang Airport. Pollution from industrial and farming activities in the Kallang Basin was cleaned up in 1987, for development of the Kallang Riverside Park where water-skiing is now popular.
The Kallang River is the longest river in Singapore flowing from the Peirce Reservoir to the coast at Nicoll Highway. For a long time the Kallang Gasworks was quite a landmark with its distinctive appearance and gas odours. Singapore's first International Airport at Kallang was completed in 1937, and was closed only with the opening of Paya Lebar Airport. The old building and grounds became the Youth Sports Club, and then the site for the Peoples' Association. Happy World Amusement and Entertainment Park, the amusement parks of early Singapore was opened in 1936. Nicoll Highway, the first short cut from the East Coast to the city, was completed in 1956, and had a bridge called Merdeka Bridge which had 2 lions at each entrance. Other prominent landmarks today include the National Stadium, the Singapore Indoor Stadium, Kallang MRT Station.
(1) Kallang could also be a corruption of the Malay word kelang meaning "a mill" or "a factory" as there were many saw mills and rice mills in the area.
(2) It could also mean "a ship building place."
(1) In Hokkien Ga Lang Kio means "Kalang Bridge" (vulgarism of Gallang Bridge).
(2) In Hokkien Ka-lang kio or in Cantonese Ka-lang kiu means "Kallang Bridge".
(3) In Hokkien Hue-sia means "Fire stronghold".
(4) In Cantonese Mui-hai kuk means "Coal Vapour Office".
(1) In Tamil Kalang Villakukhudu means "Kallang Light Cage" (i.e. gasometer").
Durai Raja Singam S. (1939). Malayan street names: What they mean and whom they commemorate (p. 112). Ipoh: Mercantile Press.
(Call no.: RCLOS 959.5 RAJ)
Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 499). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)
Sheppard, M. (Ed.). (1982). Singapore 150 years (pp. 118, 121). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 SIN)
Turnbull, C. M. (1989). A history of Singapore, 1819-1988 (pp. 5, 37). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TUR)
Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p. 205). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1993). Kallang planning area: Planning report (p. 7, 8). Singapore: The Authority.
(Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1998). Kallang planning report 1993. Retrieved October 29, 2003, from
The information in this article is valid as at 1999 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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