Keong Saik Road



Located in Chinatown, Keong Saik Road connects New Bridge Road to Neil Road. It was named after Tan Keong Saik, a prominent businessman and community leader. Over the years, the road has been transformed from a residential zone to a red-light area to the current commercial hub.1

History
Keong Saik Road was officially named in 1926 after Tan Keong Saik, a Malacca-born businessman who co-founded the Straits Steamship Company. He was elected to the municipal commission in 1886 and was appointed as a justice of the peace after retiring from the commission.Tan owned a number of houses in the vicinity of Keong Saik Road.3 Apart from Tan’s residences, a number of charcoal and grocery wholesalers groceries stood alongside with coffee shops and incense retailers. Rich merchants were said to have kept mistresses here.4


Because of its proximity to Smith Street, which was a notorious red-light district at the turn of the century,5 Keong Saik Road evolved into a red-light area in the 1960s as many brothels came to be situated in the three-storey shophouses that lined both sides of the street.6 Most of the brothels had moved out of the area by the 21st century, though about 10 were reported to still be in operation in 2003.7

The atmosphere on Keong Saik Road changed again in the early 1990s when the Urban Redevelopment Authority put up several old shophouses for sale, so that they could be conserved and modified for commercial use. Since then, high-end tenants such as boutique hotels, offices and bars have moved into the restored shophouses in the area.8

Landmarks
At the beginning of the road, where Keong Saik Road forms a junction with New Bridge Road, are two popular landmarks on each side: the Ann Kway Building and New Bridge Centre. At the junction of Keong Saik Road and Kreta Ayer Road are Oriental Plaza and Sri Layan Sithi Vinayagar Temple.9  

Variant names
Cantonese: san chou fu, meaning “three-way street”.10



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 209. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2.  Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 172. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 209. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-TRA]); Mulchand, A. (2003, July 29). This old lady still swings. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publications, p. 172. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
4. Mulchand, A. (2003, July 29). This old lady still swings. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
5. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 487. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
6. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 209. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
7. Mulchand, A. (2003, July 29). This old lady still swings. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Mulchand, A. (2003, July 29). This old lady still swings. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 209. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
9. Mighty minds street directory. (2015). Singapore: Angel Publishing Pte Ltd, [map 132]. (Call no.: RSING q912.5957 MMSD-[DIR])
10. Mulchand, A. (2003, July 29). This old lady still swings. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



Further resources
Architectural Heritage Award winners. (1998, July 9). The Straits Times, p. 31. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Hardly any residences in Keong Saik Road. (1996, December 18). The Straits Times, p. 43. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Koh, B. P. (1998, August 25). Queue for $1 room in new hotel. The Straits Times, p. 21. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Koh, B. P. (1996, December 29). You can now take your wife to Keong Saik Road. The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.

Regal Inn up for auction. (1999, June 1). The Straits Times, p. 52. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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. 

Subject
Street names--Singapore
Streets and Places
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Singapore--History
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places