Marine Parade has the distinction of being the first housing estate built entirely on reclaimed land.1 Sited in the east of Singapore, Marine Parade has a wide array of social amenities and recreational facilities, including the beaches on the east coast of the island.2 As of March 2014, there are 7,863 flats and 23,300 residents staying in the housing estate.3
Area before reclamation
Before land reclamation extended the reach of Marine Parade, the area was originally part of Katong and a promenade.4 Private houses dotted the beachfront, while the public areas were popular with swimmers and picnickers who patronised the hawker food stalls there.5 Religious organisations also held a range of recreational and societal activities in the area such as open-air church services and meetings of Buddhist groups.6
After the Japanese Occupation, the beach was in poor condition, with unexploded Japanese shells and rubbish floats affecting the shoreline.7 The British army carried out regular clean-up efforts, and politicians like independent city councillor J. M. Jumabhoy began calling for the development of a promenade and facilities like changing rooms for the public.8
In 1952, there was a dispute between the colonial government and the city council as to who was responsible for the repair of a seawall at Marine Parade that had deteriorated to such an extent that a nearby road was in danger of collapsing into the sea.9 After the dispute was resolved, the city council was allocated S$318,000 to repair the seawall and develop Marine Parade as a seaside promenade complete with changing room facilities, walkway, lifeguard posts and refreshment stalls.10
As part of a multi-phase project, land reclamation works began at Marine Parade in 1966.11 Hills at Bedok and Siglap were levelled for their earth, 20,000 cubic metres of which were moved via conveyor belt to the sea each day.12 Sand was also sourced from abroad and by 1970, some 405 hectares of land had been added to the coastline.13
The reclamation project featured one of the first large-scale uses of artificial headland breakwaters anywhere in the world.14 These breakwaters mimicked natural formations of bays along coastlines, and created headlands between which beaches formed.15 This method was simpler and less expensive than the traditional utilisation of sea walls to protect reclaimed land from wave action and beach erosion.16
By 1985, 1,525 hectares of land including the recreational beachfront of the East Coast had been added to the coastline, enlarging it by some 18 kilometres.17 The reclamation works cost around S$613 million.18 The costs were considered so prohibitive for public housing use that in 2006, Senior Minister Goh Chok Tong, Member of Parliament for Marine Parade, ruled out the prospect of another public housing estate created entirely from reclaimed land.19
In 1971, the government unveiled its development plan for the East Coast area, which included Marine Parade.20 The plan included the construction of an expressway, known today as East Coast Parkway, to connect Marine Parade and the other housing estates along the East Coast coastline to the city.21 Public amenities as well as commercial and recreational areas were also zoned to inject vibrancy into the East Coast estates.22
By the end of 1973, the Housing Development Board (HDB) had completed the first phase of the estate development.23 The flats were of the two, three, four and five-room varieties, numbering 6,000 units, and a market, shops and offices were also constructed.24 The second phase of the project would add more commercial and community facilities, including more shops, schools hawker centres, a post office, library and additional public housing.25
The first flats at Marine Parade estate were opened for balloting in 1974.26 Three-room units were priced at S$13,500, four-room at S$20,500, and five-room at S$35,500.27 By 1976, the estate was completed at a cost of S$124.79 million.28 There were a total of 57 blocks of 8,015 flats and 99 shops, alongside office spaces, recreational and community facilities across 42 hectares, accommodating around 40,000 residents.29
By the 1980s, Marine Parade was regarded as one of the most desirable places to live due to its seafront, recreational and commercial facilities and ambience.30 This was reflected by rising prices for resale flats in the area – three-room units which cost S$13,500 originally had risen to around S$50,000 in 1988 and over S$165,000 in 1996.31 In 1992, Marine Parade became the first estate in Singapore to undergo the Main Upgrading Programme, the government’s scheme to upgrade ageing estates.32
The Marine Parade constituency was created in 1976, and Goh Chok Tong, the former Prime Minister of Singapore, has been its Member of Parliament since then.33 In 1988, the town was incorporated into the Marine Parade Group Representative Constituency (GRC), together with Geylang Serai, and Joo Chiat.34 Currently, the Marine Parade GRC is made up of Marine Parade, Braddell Heights, Geylang Serai, Kembangan–Chai Chee, and Joo Chiat.35
1. “Marine Parade,” Housing Development Board, accessed 15 March 2016.
2. Housing Development Board, “Marine Parade.”
3. Housing Development Board, “Marine Parade.”
4. Housing Development Board, “Marine Parade.”
5. Charlotte Lim M. C., Marine Parade: Community by the Sea (Singapore: Marine Parade Citizens’ Consultative Committee, 2006), 5–8. (Call no. RSING 307.76095957 LIM)
6. “Open-Air Service,” Straits Times, 30 October 1949, 3; “Buddhists Meet,” Straits Times, 20 January 1949, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
7. “Off-Shore Arms Dump Grows and Grows,” Straits Times, 20 May 1956, 11; “Dirt on Parade,” Straits Times, 17 September 1961, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
8. “Off-Shore Arms Dump”; “Marine Parade Dispute.” 9. “Council, Govt Deadlock over Sea Wall,” Straits Times, 8 February 1952, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
10. “Marine Parade Dispute”; “A Better Marine Parade by May,” Straits Times, 8 January 1955, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Lim, Community by the Sea, 1.
12. Lim, Community by the Sea, 1.
13. Lim, Community by the Sea, 14.
14. William Campbell, “Making Our Beaches to Order…,” Straits Times, 24 September 1974, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Campbell, “Making Our Beaches.”
16. Campbell, “Making Our Beaches.”
17. Lim, Community by the Sea, 1; “The Great Land Reclamation at East Coast,” Straits Times, 11 November 1983, 7. (From NewspaperSG)
18. “Great Land Reclamation.”
19. “Why There Will Never Be Another Marine Parade,” New Paper, 18 November 2006, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
20. William Campbell, “Where 100,000 Will Live and Play on Reclaimed East Coast,” Straits Times, 8 August 1971, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
21. Campbell, “Live and Play on Reclaimed East Coast.”
22. Campbell, “Live and Play on Reclaimed East Coast.”
23. “Marine Parade Estate Ready by Year End,” Straits Times, 30 August 1973, 9. (From NewspaperSG)
24. “Marine Parade Estate Ready.”
25. “Marine Parade Estate Ready.”
26. “400 HDB Flats for Ballot,” Straits Times, 5 April 1974, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
27. “Speaker at Ballot for 894 Flats,” Straits Times, 31 May 1974, 8; “Marine Parade Flats Ballot,” Straits Times, 13 January 1976, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
28. “Marine Parade Estate Project Will Be Completed Next Year,” Straits Times, 8 January 1975, 6; “HDB Spent over $2B since Start in 1960,” Straits Times, 8 March 1978, 15. (From NewspaperSG)
29. “Marine Parade Estate Project.”
30. “Gracious but Affordable Living in Marine Parade,” Straits Times, 3 March 1988, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
31. “Gracious but Affordable Living”; “Page 27 Advertisements Column 6,” Straits Times, 3 March 1988, 27. (From NewspaperSG)
32. Lim, Community by the Sea, 39.
33. “4 More Seats in the House,” New Nation, 19 July 1976, 1 (From NewspaperSG); Lim, Community by the Sea, 42; “Our Members of Parliament,” Marine Parade Town Council, accessed 15 March 2016.
34. Loh Hui Yin, “Why Boundaries Have to Be Redrawn,” Straits Times, 15 June 1988, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
35. “Information on the Five Districts,” Community Development Council, accessed 27 April 2016.
Esther Teo, “Seaside Town with Laid-Back Atmosphere,” Straits Times, 18 November 2006, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
“Holiday Habit Changes,” Straits Times, 21 March 1948, 5. (From NewspaperSG)
Lim Lan Yan, Marine Parade Town Council (Singapore: National University of Singapore, 1996). (Call no. RSING 307.095957 LIM)
Loh Hui Yin, “Why Boundaries Have to Be Redrawn,” Straits Times, 15 June 1988, 2. (From NewspaperSG)
“Marine Parade Estate Will Be Completed Next Year,” Straits Times, 2 March 1975, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
“Marine Parade May Be Seaside Park,” Straits Times, 31 August 1951, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
Matilda Gabriel, “Chok Tong Recalls Boyhood Days,” Straits Times, 11 October 1984, 11. (From NewspaperSG)
“Our Members of Parliament,” Marine Parade Town Council, accessed 15 March 2016.
Sam Ran, “Our ‘Gold’ Coast,” Straits Times, 14 November 1983, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
“Singapore to Get New Promenade,” Straits Times, 22 March 1954, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
William Campbell, “Where 100,000 Will Live and Play on Reclaimed East Coast,” Straits Times, 8 August 1971, 6. (From NewspaperSG)
The information in this article is valid as of 2016 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.