Amber Mansions, located along the curve between Orchard Road and Penang Road, was built in the 1920s and was owned by Joseph Elias, a prominent Jewish businessman. It was one of Singapore's first shopping centres. It was demolished in 1984 to make way for the Dhoby Ghaut MRT Station.
Amber Mansions was designed by architecture firm Swan & Maclaren, and was built between 1922 and 1928. Owned by Jewish businessman Joseph Elias, the building took on the family's clan name Amber as did several of Elias' properties and a particular road, Amber Road, in the East Coast. Amber Mansions was considered an elite place to shop with many uptown socialites gathering there during its hey-days. One of Singapore's first shopping centres, it had some of the most expensive boutiques of Singapore offering the latest fashion.
Compared to contemporary shopping centres, Amber Mansions was diminutive standing no taller than three storeys. However, it was one of the best-designed post-World War I buildings in Singapore. The wide-arched gallery windows were in a typically colonial style. Its front facade followed the curve of Penang Lane. A series of shops faced the road. Suites of lawyers and architects were housed upstairs. Some of the building's well known tenants included the University Bookstore, Fosters Steakhouse and the construction house, City Developments Limited. The Municipal Gas Department was housed on the ground level of the Amber Mansions. During a heavy downpour, Orchard Road was often flooded and rain water could reach knee-deep outside Amber Mansions.
Despite its popularity, Amber Mansions was pulled down in 1984 together with the Cycle & Carriage showroom and the Sri Sivan Temple, to make way for the construction of the new MRT station at Dhoby Ghaut. Cycle & Carriage moved to Leng Kee Road near Redhill estate, where car showrooms are concentrated in Singapore. Sri Sivan Temple is now located at Geylang East.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
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