Market Street

Market Street refers to two one-way roads within the central business district. One road connects Church Street to Chulia Street, while the other connects Cecil Street to the junction of Cross Street and Robinson Road.1

Market Street was featured in G. D. Coleman’s 1836 Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore, making it one of the older streets of Singapore.2 Historically an enclave of Indian Chettiars who were mostly moneylenders, the street used to be lined with shophouses where the moneylenders operated. A single shophouse was shared by many moneylenders, and each was allocated his own working space within the shophouse. The working space was made up of a raised wooden platform with a seat for the moneylender, a small box where records were kept, and a safe for storing cash. The shophouses were demolished between 1982 and 1983. Besides the Indians, the street was home to the Hokkiens who also worked out of the shophouses. Many Hokkiens still continue to work along this street today as importers, exporters and commission agents.3

The Golden Shoe Carpark occupies an entire side of the Market Street that connects Church Street to Chulia Street.4 Built in 1984,5 the 10-storey building houses corporate offices on the top floor, with shops as well as food-and-beverage establishments on the ground floor.6 In October 2016, the property’s owner announced that the site would be redeveloped as a skyscraper with a height of up to 280 m.7

On the opposite side of the street is Republic Plaza. Designed by Kisho Kurokawa, a leading Japanese architect of the 20th century, the 66-storey, 280-metre-tall commercial property is one of the tallest buildings in Singapore.8

The site of the former Market Street Car Park – at the part of Market Street that connects Cecil Street to the junction of Cross Street and Robinson Road – is presently occupied by CapitaGreen, a 40-storey, 245-metre-tall officer tower completed in December 2014. It was designed by Japanese architect Toyo Ito.9

Variant names
Market Street was referred to as tiong koi in Hokkien and chung kai in Cantonese, both of which mean “Central Street”. This referred to the five ko thau (divisions) historically used by the Hokkiens for the Chingay parade.

It is also known as lau pa sat khau, which translates literally to “old market mouth”, referring to the old Telok Ayer Market (today’s Lau Pa Sat) located at the southern end of Market Street.10

The street was also called Chetty theruvu (Chetty’s street) in Tamil, a reference to the Chettiars that populated the area.11


Naidu Ratnala Thulaja

1. Mighty Minds Street Directory (Singapore: Angel Publishing Pte Ltd., 2014), 35. (Call no. RSING 912.5957 MMSD)
2. Survey Department, Singapore, Map of the Town and Environs of Singapore, 1836, survey map, National Archives of Singapore (accession no. TM000037); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 249. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 249–50.
4. Mighty Minds Street Directory, 122.
5. Oei Sin Geok, “Golden Shoe Carpark Ready for Use in June,” Singapore Monitor, 20 January 1984, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
6. “Golden Shoe Car Park,” CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited, accessed 23 September 2016.
7. Lee Xin En, “Golden Shoe Carpark Building to Be Redeveloped as Office Tower,” Straits Times, 20 October 2016, 8. (From NewspaperSG)
8. “CDL’s Republic Plaza Clinches Top International Award,” Straits Times, 26 May 1997, 51 (From NewspaperSG); “Republic Plaza,” City Developments Limited, accessed 23 September 2016.
9. Kalpana Rashiwala, “83% Committed Occupancy at CapitaGreen,” Business Times, 10 September 2015, 15 (From NewspaperSG); “CapitaGreen,” CapitaLand Commercial Trust Management Limited, 23 September 2016.
10. H. W. Firmstone, “Chinese Names of Streets and Places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula,” Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 42 (February 1905): 108–09. (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS)
11. “Some Singapore Street Names,” Singapore Free Press and Mercantile Advertiser (1884–1942), 6 June 1934, 8. (From NewspaperSG)

Further resources
Charles Burton, Buckley, Buckley, An Anecdotal History of Old Times in Singapore, 1819–1867 (Singapore: Oxford University Press, 1984), 209–11, 667. (Call no. RSING 959.57 BUC-[HIS])

H. T. Haughton, “Native Names of Streets in Singapore,” in Singapore 150 Years (Singapore: Malayan Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1982), 214, 218.

Lee Su Shyan, “Sinsov Building on the Block Once More,” Straits Times, 14 April 2003, 13. (From NewspaperSG)

Marcus Ng, “Micro India: The Chettiars of Market Street,” BiblioAsia (Oct–Dec 2017)

Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 426, 395, 450, 451. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])

Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 205. (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS])

The information in this article is valid as at 2016 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.


Street names--Singapore
Streets and Places