Chin Chew Street



Chin Chew Street, in Chinatown, connects South Bridge Road and China Street. An Indian residential area in the 1820s,1 it later became synonymous with the samsui women who made this street their home in the early 20th century.

History
Chin Chew is thought to be a loose transliteration or a form of slang to refer to the city of Ch'uan-chou (Quanzhou) in the Fujian province of China.3 Being in the vicinity of Cross Street – a former Indian enclave where many Indian boatmen lived and operated shops selling goat’s milk, mutton and herbs, Chin Chew Street began as an Indian residential area in the early 19th century.4 The road originally consisted of another portion called Upper Chin Chew Street. Until the 1930s, Upper Chin Chew Street was a hive of activity due to the many music halls, restaurants, theatres and brothels located there.5 This portion of the road was expunged to make way for the Hong Lim Complex constructed in 1979–80.6


In the mid to late 19th century, Chin Chew Street became a Chinese commercial area; many beancurd cottage industries and sellers once thrived on the street. In the early 20th century, this street, along with Upper Chin Chew Street, was the home of many samsui women, who were construction labourers from the Sanshui (“Samsui” in Cantonese) district of China's Guangdong province. The women lived in tiny and squalid spaces within dingy shophouses that lined the streets.7

Description
Urbanisation saw the street transformed into a modern commercial-cum-residential location. On 18 January 1997, the street became part of the China Square Conservation Area, which is made up of South Bridge Road, Hokkien Street, Nankin Street, Pekin Street, Amoy Street and Telok Ayer Street.8


Variant names
Chinese names: Tau-hu koi (Hokkien) and Tau-fu kai (Cantonese), both of which mean "beancurd street", referring to the beancurd industries and sellers on this road.9
Tamil name: Arampillei sadakku, which means "Arampillei's road".10
Others: "Black cloth street", a reference to the samsui women who once lived there.11 



Author

Thulaja Naidu Ratnala



References
1. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Chan, K. S. (1999, November 6). Multiple storeys their storyThe Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Mak, L. (1981). The sociology of secret societies: A study of Chinese secret societies in Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press, p. 137. (Call no.: RSING 366.095957 MAK)
4. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 75, 95. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
5. Chinatown: An album of a Singapore community. (1983). Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 57–61. (Call no.: RSING 779.995957 CHI); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 455. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
6. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 402, 455. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 390. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
7. Chan, K. S. (1999, November 6). Multiple storeys their story. The Straits Times, p. 4; Chan, K. S. (2002, February 4). Take me to watercart street. The Straits Times, p. 6. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); National Heritage Board. (2016, October 21). A view of Upper Chin Chew Street. Retrieved 2016, September 26 from Roots website: https://roots.sg/Roots/learn/collections/listing/xxxx-13572
8. Urban Redevelopment Authority. (2016, July 28). China Square. Retrieved 2016, September 26 from Urban Redevelopment Authority website: https://www.ura.gov.sg/uol/conservation/conservation-xml.aspx?id=CHSQ
9. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 455. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Haughton, H. (1969, July). Native names of streets in Singapore. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42(1)(215), 196–207, p. 199. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, pp. 75, 390. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]) 
10. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 455. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Haughton, H. (1969, July). Native names of streets in Singapore. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42(1)(215), 196–207, p. 206. Retrieved from JSTOR via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
11. Chinatown: An album of a Singapore community. (1983). Singapore: Times Books International, p. 58. (Call no.: RSING 779.995957 CHI); Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who's Who Publications, p. 49. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 455. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 75. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])



The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we can ascertain from our sources. It not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Subject
Streets and Places
Urbanization--Singapore
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Geography>>Population>>Urban Planning
Law and government>>National development>>Urban development
Street names--Singapore
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Urban planning