Amoy Street



Amoy Street in Chinatown begins at the junction of McCallum Street, and Telok Ayer Street and ends at Pekin Street.1 Developed in the 1830s, the street was probably named after the migrants who came from Amoy in China.

History
Developed in the 1830s as part of the 1822 Raffles’ plan for Chinatown, Amoy Street was initially listed as “Amoi Street” in Coleman’s 1836 Map of Singapore.3 The street probably got its name from Amoy, a port in Fujian Province, China from which many Hokkien immigrants left to settle in Singapore.4


As it was near the shore then, Amoy Street had businesses that catered to the sailors and the sea trade.5 The street was associated with opium-smoking dens during colonial times. A Chinese free school, Cui Ying School, was established on this street in 1854.6 Hence, the street was also known as Free School Street or gi-oh khau (entrance of the free school).7

Description and key highlights
Starting at the junction of McCallum Street and Telok Ayer Street, Amoy Street takes a right turn to run parallel to Telok Ayer Street.8 The whole street measures around 500 m, and is a short distance from the central business district.9

The first Anglo-Chinese School in Singapore, which used to be located at shophouse number 70, was started by Methodist missionaries with just 13 pupils on 1 March 1886. Now called ACS House, this place has been classified as a historic site since the late 1990s.10 Opposite the school stands the Al-Abrar Mosque which was constructed in 1827 by Tamil Muslims known as the Chulias. It was gazetted as a national monument on 19 November 1974.11

Another historic structure, the Thian Hock Keng Temple, flanked by Amoy Street and Telok Ayer Street on each side of the temple, was completed in 1842. Gazetted as a national monument on 28 June 1973, it is one of the oldest and most important Buddhist temples for the Hokkiens in Singapore.12 The Fuk Tak Chi temple, which was converted into a museum, and the Ying Fo Fui Kun (Hakka clan association) are also within the vicinity,13 while nearby the start of the street, stands the Sian Chai Kang temple – distinguished by the fiery dragons resting on its roof.14

Telok Ayer Green, a park about one-third the size of a football field, stands between the Thian Hock Keng Temple and the Nagore Dargah. The Ann Siang Hill park, on the other hand is surrounded by shophouses along Amoy Street, Club Street and Ann Siang Road.15 A commercial property, Far East Square, renowned for its vibrant mix of eateries and shops, is sited at the confluence of Amoy Street, Pekin Street and Telok Ayer Street.16

Variant names

(1) Ma-cho-kiong au (Hokkien), meaning “Behind the temple of Ma-Cho”, a reference to the Thian Hock Keng temple.
(2) Gi-oh khau (Hokkien), meaning “mouth of free school” or “entrance to free school”, referring to the free school located there in the 1850s.
(3) Kun-yam miu hau kai (Cantonese), meaning “the street behind the temple of Kun-Yam”, a reference to the Thian Hock Keng temple.
(4) Ha mun kai (Cantonese), with Ha mun being the Cantonese pronunciation for Amoy.17



Author

Thulaja Naidu Ratnala 



References
1. Mighty minds street directory. (2014). Singapore: Mighty Minds Publishing, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD–[DIR])
2. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV–[TRA])
3. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV–[TRA])
4. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 5. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN–[HIS])
5. Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore. Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, p. 5. (Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN–[HIS])
6. Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2013). Singapore street names: A study of toponymics. Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, p. 17. (Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV -[TRA])
7. Firmstone, H. W. (1905). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, 54–55. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
8. Mighty minds street directory. (2014). Singapore: Mighty Minds Publishing, p. 12. (Call no.: RSING 912.5957 MMSD–[DIR])
9. Soh, T. K. (1996, August 8). From opium den to insurance hub. The Business Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
10. ACS makes history. (1998, March 1). The Straits Times, p. 26. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
11. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 439. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW–[TRA])
12. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, p. 438. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW–[TRA])
13. Edwards, N., & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places. Singapore: Times Books International, pp. 435–436. (Call no.: RSING 915.957 EDW –[TRA])
14. Lewis, M. (2010). Singapore: The rough guide. London: Rough Guides, pp. 55–56. (Call no.: RSING 915.95704 S–[TRA])
15. Facelift for two more parks in Chinatown. (2002, June 22). The Straits Times, p. H2. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
16. Far East Organization. (2008). About us. Retrieved 2016, September 2 from Far East Square website: http://www.fareastsquare.com.sg/home/index.aspx?key=intro
17. Firmstone, H. W. (1905). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42, 54–55. (Call no.: RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)



The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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
Architecture and Landscape>>Building Types>>Historic Buildings
Street names--Singapore
Streets and Places
Singapore--History--1819-1867
Architecture and Landscape>>Streets and Places
Historic buildings
Arts>>Architecture>>Public and commercial buildings
Historic sites--Singapore
People and communities>>Social groups and communities