Eu Tong Sen Street



Eu Tong Sen Street begins from a stretch of road formed by the meeting of two roads, Jalan Bukit Merah and Kampong Bahru Road, and ends at the junction of Hill Street, Fort Canning Rise and Coleman Street. An artery of the Chinatown hub and a shopping haven, the street was named after Eu Tong Sen, a wealthy tin miner and rubber planter from Perak, Malaysia.1

History
Jalan Bukit Merah and Kampong Bahru Road meet to form a single major road that later branches into two parallel roads, Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. Eu Tong Sen Street leads to Clarke Quay before ending at Coleman Bridge at the junction of Hill Street, Fort Canning Rise and Coleman Street. Eu Tong Sen Street was previously called Wayang Street and was renamed in 1919. There are two explanations to why the street is attributed to him: One is that it was in recognition of his contributions of a tank and a scout fighter plane in support British war efforts during World War I. The other is that Eu rebuilt the street and bought over two existing Chinese opera theatres (Heng Seng Peng and Heng Wai Sun, now People’s Park Complex). An eight-lane carriageway was constructed in the late 1980s to merge New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street.2


Description
Located along Eu Tong Sen Street is Yue Hwa Department Store, formerly the Great Southern Hotel. The hotel, built in 1936, was the first Chinese hotel to have a lift. The building was also popularly known as Nam Tin (meaning “Southern sky” in Cantonese). This conserved building was the tallest building in Chinatown in the 1930s and won a heritage award in 1997.3

People’s Park Complex, built in 1970, was a retail shopping centre until 1973 when flats were added, turning it into a shopping-and-residential complex. The first building in Southeast Asia with such a feature, the complex provided a model that has been replicated throughout the region.4

The former Thong Chai Medical Institution was built in 1892, largely through the contributions of the Malaccan born philanthropist, Gan Eng Seng. It was the best known of the Chinese charity medical centres. Thong Chai means “benefit to all”, and here was where sinsehs (traditional Chinese doctors) dispensed free treatment, regardless of race. A national monument since 1973, it was earlier rented out as an arts and crafts centre before it was sold.5

The interior of the former Majestic Theatre was extensively re-furbished but the front façade of the old building was conserved. Originally built in 1927 by Eu Tong Sen, it was then called Tien Yien Moh Toi where Cantonese operas were staged. It was the renamed Queen’s Theatre before being called Majestic Theatre. It closed in 1998 and re-opened in 2003 as a three-storey shopping mall after an $8 million renovation.6 Other buildings found in the area are Furama Hotel, a distinctively palm-shaped structure,7 and Yangtze Building, which was renovated and upgraded in the 1990s into a business centre-and-cinema hall. The cinema closed in 2016.8



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. New $17m 8-lane carriageway. (1987, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
2. New $17m 8-lane carriageway. (1987, September 25). The Straits Times, p. 16. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who's Who Publications, p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 122‒123. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Byrne Bracken, G. (2002). Singapore: A walking tour. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 12‒15. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BYR-[HIS]); Sit, Y. F. (1994, April 16). New life for old Chinatown hotel as retail store. The Straits Times, p. 10. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
4. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who's Who Publications, p. 78. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 401, 403, 407. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Lim, H. (2003, February 24). What's so majestic about Majestic? The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Byrne Bracken, G. (2002). Singapore: A walking tour. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 12‒15. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BYR-[HIS]); Lee, E. (1990). Historic buildings of Singapore. Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board, p. 59. (Call no.: RSING 720.95957 LEE); Hee, L. (2002). Consuming culture: The old Thong Chai Medical Building at Eu Tong Sen Street. The Singapore Architect, 214, 88‒97. (Call no.: RSING 720.5 SA)
6. Byrne Bracken, G. (2002). Singapore: A walking tour. Singapore: Times Editions, pp. 12‒15. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 BYR-[HIS]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 122-123. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Lim, J. (2003, February 16). Majestic mall no longer majestic. The New Paper, p. 3; Boo, K. (2002, July 3). Majestic again… . The Straits Times, p. 1; Majestic Theatre’s back. (2003, January 18). The Straits Times, p. L2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
7. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 401, 403, 407. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
8. New business centre-cum-cinema complex at Chinatown by September. (1990, January 22). The Straits Times, p. 36. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Yip, W.Y. (2016, March 1). Goodbye to softcore cinema Yangtze. The Straits Times. Retrieved August 11, 2016, from The Straits Times website: http://www.straitstimes.com/lifestyle/entertainment/goodbye-to-softcore-cinema-yangtze



Further resources
Hee, L. (2002). Consuming culture: The old Thong Chai Medical Building at Eu Tong Sen Street. The Singapore Architect, 214, 88‒97.
(Call no.: RSING 720.5 SA)

Lim, H. (2003, February 24). What's so majestic about Majestic? The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, pp. 122‒123.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 and correct as far as we can 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.

 

Subject
Street names--Singapore
Streets and Places
Ethnic Communities
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Heritage and Culture
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings