Cross Street



Cross Street is a one-way street that begins from Raffles Quay. The street becomes Upper Cross Street after meeting South Bridge Road and ends at Havelock Road.1 Cross Street intersects with several historic streets in Singapore, such as Telok Ayer Street, Amoy Street, China Street, South Bridge Road, New Bridge Road, Robinson Road and Cecil Street.2

History
The reason why Cross Street is so named is unknown. Peter Dunlop posited in his book Street Names of Singapore that it could be due to how the road “crosses” Chinatown, linking New Bridge and South Bridge roads with the commercial district at Raffles Quay.3


One of the oldest streets in Singapore, Cross Street was featured in the first implementation of Stamford Raffles’s plan for Chinatown. Drawn up by Philip Jackson, the 1828 town plan incorporated Raffles’s recommendations to allocate specific areas for various racial groups. In the plan, Kling houses and a Kling chapel (probably a temple) are clearly marked out on Cross Street, although the surrounding area was designated as a “Chinese Campong [kampong]”. The street also appears in the first topographical survey of Singapore by G. D. Coleman, published in 1836.4

Each of the major races in Singapore referred to Cross Street in their own way. The Chinese called it kiat leng kia koi or “Klingman’s street”, because there was a community of Indians who lived there in the 1820s. “Kling” was a derogatory local term for Indians. Before the street became predominantly Chinese, the area was mainly an Indian residential one. In the 1820s, Indian boatmen lived and operated shops along the street, selling goat milk, mutton and herbs. Hence, the Tamils called the street paalkadei sadakku or “street of the milk shops”, while the Malays called it kampong susu or “milk village”.5

Upper Cross Street was also known as “Hai San Street”, which was derived from the Chinese secret society of the same name that had created much trouble in the area. Hai San was the group that was involved in violent conflict with another Chinese secret society, Ghee Hin, in Perak and Penang in the 1860s and early 1870s.6

The Sook Ching centre, where Chinese males were rounded up and screened for anti-Japanese involvement during the Japanese Occupation, was located at the junction of South Bridge Road and Cross Street. The site, where Hong Lim Complex now stands, is marked by a bronze historic marker.7

From the 1950s to the late 1970s, Cross Street had numerous Chinese stationery and book shops thriving in the area.8

Description
Situated at the start of Cross Street, at the junction with Raffles Quay, is Lau Pa Sat. Formerly the Telok Ayer Market, it is a popular hawker centre and one of Singapore’s most prominent landmarks. Its striking octagonal cast-iron structure was built in 1894 by municipal engineer, James MacRitchie, on land reclaimed from the sea in 1881. The grande dame of markets in Singapore, it was gazetted as a national monument in 1973.9

Opposite Lau Pa Sat, on the other side of Cross Street, is the Hong Leong Building. A 44-storey commercial-and-residential building, it was constructed in 1974 by Swan & Maclaren and conceived as a “vertical town”.10

The former Market Street Car Park, the first multi-storey carpark in Singapore, was constructed in 1963 at the junction of Cross Street and Market Street. It was built by the Public Works Department at the cost of $2.5 million to alleviate the problem of insufficient parking spaces in the central business district. In 2011, CapitaCommercial Trust decided to use the land for a new office development and the nine-storey Market Street Car Park was thus demolished. On the site now stands CapitaGreen, a 40-storey, 245-metre-tall officer tower. It was designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito and completed in December 2014.11

Another heritage landmark still standing on Upper Cross Street is the former Great Southern Hotel, which was once considered the “Raffles Hotel of Chinatown”. Occupying a building named Nam Tin (which means “southern sky” in Cantonese) at the junction of Eu Tong Sen Street and Upper Cross Street, it was the first Chinese hotel in Singapore with a lift. Nam Tin was the tallest building in Chinatown when it was built in 1927. It now houses a department store called Yue Hwa Chinese Products.12

Variant names
Hokkien: Kit-ling-a koi, which means “Kling street”.13
Cantonese: Hoi-san kai-ha kai, which means “lower street of Upper Cross Street”. Hoi-san kai refers to Upper Cross Street (hoi-san in Cantonese refers to the secret society Hai San (海山), while kai means “street”), and ha kai means “lower street”.14



Author
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. Streetdirectory Pte Ltd. (n.d.). Cross Street. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Streetdirectory.com website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/cross-street/18007_1.html; Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 454. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
2. Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
3. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 62. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
4. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
5. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 454. (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. 95. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
6. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA]); Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS]); Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1995). Outram planning area: Planning report 1995. Singapore: The Authority, p. 6. (Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN); Survey Department, Singapore. (1836). Map of the town and environs of Singapore [Map accession no. TM000037]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/; Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., pp. 62–63. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
7. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 62. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Chong, Z. L. (2017, February 13). After the fall of Singapore: Horror and, today, peace. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/
8. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 95. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
9. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 429–430. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Streetdirectory Pte Ltd. (n.d.). Cross Street. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Streetdirectory.com website: http://www.streetdirectory.com/sg/cross-street/18007_1.html; Singapore Tourism Board. (2017). Lau Pa Sat. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from Visit Singapore website: http://www.visitsingapore.com/see-do-singapore/architecture/historical/lau-pa-sat.html
10. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 428. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
11. Rashiwala, K. (2015, September 10). 83% committed occupancy at CapitaGreen. The Business Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited. (n.d). CapitaGreen. Retrieved 2017, September 1 from CapitaLand Commercial Trust website: http://www.cct.com.sg/system/misc/Portfolio_CapitaGreen.pdf; Tan, M. (2013, October 16). CBD parking high fees and lack of season carpark spaces drive away many motorists. The Straits Times. Retrieved from Factiva via NLB’s eResources website: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/; Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers’ Singapore: Then & now. Singapore: Landmark Books, p. 136. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE-[HIS])
12. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 403. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Samuel, D. S. (1991). Singapore’s heritage: Through places of historical interest. Singapore: Elixir Consultancy Service, p. 82. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 SAM-[HIS]); Sit, Y. F. (1994, April 16). New life for old Chinatown hotel as retail store. The Straits Times, p. 10; $25m spent to restore, extend building. (1997, July 10). The Straits Times, p. 37; 区如柏 [Qu, R. B.]. (1990, September 9). 昔日的香格里拉南天走过63年. 联合早报 [Lianhe Zaobao], p. 42. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Pub., p. 62. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])
13. Firmstone, H. W. (1905, February). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, pp. 82–83. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
14. Firmstone, H. W. (1905, February). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, pp. 82–83. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)



The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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
Law and government>>National development>>Urban development
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
People and communities>>Social groups and communities
Streets and Places
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places