The old Tanjong Katong was the coastal stretch from Upper East Coast Road to Tanjong Rhu. Tanjong Katong, now an estate, translated means "turtle point". Katong was a species of sea-turtle which is now extinct. It also means "the rippling effect of a sea mirage" when looking at a shore-line. Boathouses, beach-side retreats, mighty mansions and more, have all been a part of Tanjong Katong. The area has many roads here of English origin for example Mountbatten, Bournemouth, Wilkinson and Broadrick. Today the main Tanjong Katong Road stretches from Sims Avenue to Tanjong Katong Road South where the Tanjong Katong Flyover links with East Coast Parkway (ECP).
In 1822, Raffles set aside the stretch between Sandy Point to Deep Water Point (Tanjong Katong) as a Marine Yard. Chinese settlers were provided compensation to give impetus to the new industry resulting in boatyards proliferating here by the 1860s. Wealthy Straits Chinese, Europeans and Jews built mansions, hotels and recreation clubs along the beach for weekend retreats. Stretching from Tanjong Katong Road to the former Grove Road (now Mountbatten Road) was a vast coconut estate, the Grove Estate, owned by Thomas Dunman, Singapore's first Superintendent of Police. The residential areas as what we know today were well established by 1941. During the Japanese Occupation (1942 - 1945) the stretch of shophouses along Tanjong Katong Road, between Wilkinson and Goodman roads, were used to house "comfort women" (a term used to describe women who were forced into prostitution by the Japanese military) from Korea and Indonesia. Today, the shophouses retain the atmosphere of the 1970s including an old bookshop, a tailor and several coffeeshops. Residents however, suffered somewhat in the past each time the nearby Geylang River brimmed over during high tide or during the rainy season and flooded their homes and schools until in, 1994, the river was deepened and its banks brightened up. Although residents no longer climb into the river to catch crabs during low tide, the river bank now offers a pleasant walk and her waters no longer smell as bad. The river now seems to live up to the delightful Malay folk tune which is now a National Song, "Di-Tanjong Katong (ayer-nya biru)" which sings of the tranquil atmosphere of Tanjong Katong with blue sea waters washing ashore.
Tanjong Katong Road is one part in Geylang East sub-zone section, from Sims Avenue till Dunman Road, located in the Geylang area; and the other part which is the border of Mountbatten and Katong/Marine sub-zones from Dunman Road to Amber Road, located in the Marine Parade area.
The old famous Seaview Hotel (owned by the Sarkies Brothers of Raffles Hotel and E & O Hotel Penang fame) built in the mid-1930s, in the Grove Estate right by the sea, was for years a landmark for many social and cultural events. It was demolished in late 1960s.
The Katong Post Office sitting in an old 2-storey colonial house is possibly one of the oldest neighbourhood Post Offices still standing in its original location.
Chung Cheng (Chinese) High School was a centre for many student demonstrations in the late 1950s and early 1960S. It still stands today in Goodman Road.
The Tanjong Katong Girl's school stood alongside the Tanjong Katong Technical School before it moved further down Tanjong Katong Road to a spanking new building.
Hollywood Theatre, once famed for its movie shows and Chinese filmstars such as child star Fung Bo Bo and Siao Fong Fong who made appearances there, has now been converted into a church - the City Harvest Church.
Edwards, N. & Keys, P. (1988). Singapore: A guide to buildings, streets, places (p. 387). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 EDW)
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, 154.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR-[IC])
Tyers, R. K. (1993). Ray Tyers' Singapore: Then and now (p.206). Singapore: Landmark Books.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 TYE)
Urban Redevelopment Authority. (1994). Marine Parade planning area: Planning report 1994 ( p. 8) . Singapore: Urban Redevelopment Authority,
(Call no.: RSING 711.4095957 SIN)
Ramachandra, S. (1961). Singapore landmarks, past and present (p. 1-2). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 RAM)
List of Images
Di Tanjong Katong. (2001, March 27). The Straits Times, Life!, pp. 1-2.
The information in this article is valid as at 1999 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.