Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Part #1: Intro to Singapore River

The Singapore River was the lifeline of Singapore where our first immigrants eked out a meagre living and saw Singapore transform from an obscure little fishing village to a great seaport.

The history of the Singapore River can be divided into three distinct periods: pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial. Colourful tales permeate the pre-colonial history of Singapore River. The Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) undertook the planning of the Singapore River. New developments have become a palimpsest over old histories. When Singapore was founded by Sir Stamford Raffles, the river was home to the many merchants, businessmen and coolies, who were the forefathers of Singapore.

This is the very origin of Singapore's prosperity, with the Merlion (the city's tourism icon) steadfastly standing guard at the mouth of the river. Quaint bridges span the river, ranging from the elegant Anderson Bridge to the simple Ord Bridge. Heading upriver, you will see the historic Anderson and Cavenagh Bridges. Cavenagh Bridge, built in 1869 and now for pedestrians only, leads to Empress Place, which was named in honour of Queen Victoria. At Empress Place, you will find the elegant Victoria Concert Hall, where classical concerts by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra are held regularly.

Highlights on the banks of the Singapore River include Boat Quay, Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, landmarks and memorials such as Merlion Park and Parliament House, museums such as the Asian Civilisations Museum as well as temples and mosques such as the Tan Si Chong Su Temple and Omar Kampong Melaka Mosque.
Marvel at these sights as you stroll along the banks of the river. Alternatively, hop onto a glass-top boat or bumboat and enjoy a leisure cruise on the river. Choose from a range of riverboat services available - loop hop-on and hop-off, river express, river taxi and leisure sightseeing tours. You can get on the boats at Clifford Pier, Raffles Place, Raffles’ Landing Site, Boat Quay and Clarke Quay.

Dinning or an evening cocktail on Boat Quay is astounding and most likely the most photographed scene in Singapore. Or enjoy a sumptuous meal at the tranquil atmosphere of Robertson Quay which is located a little further down.

Part #2: How to get to Singapore River (And other details you need to make your trip enjoyable)


From SST to Singapore River:

Take the bus (from Block 304: 185, 189; from ‘mama shop’: 105, 106, 183) to Clementi MRT.
Take the MRT from Clementi and alight at Outram Park Interchange.
Transfer from the East-West Line to the North-East Line, and take the train from Outram Park to Clarke Quay.
Exit from Exit F, and Singapore River is beside The Central.

Things you would need to bring:

An umbrella - it might rain
A water bottle - walking along Singapore River is quite tiring, you need to quench your thirst
A camera - to take snapshots of the area, of course!

Part #3: Coleman Bridge

Located in the Central Region of the Singapore River area, Coleman Bridge links Hill Street with New Bridge Road. It is named after the designer of the first Coleman Bridge, George D. Coleman, who was also the first Superintendent of Public Works and Singapore's first architect. Three other Coleman Bridges (built in 1865, 1886 and 1990 respectively) have since replaced that first structure. The latest and biggest Coleman Bridge was completed in 1990 as part of the New Bridge Road Widening Scheme.
The first Coleman Bridge was a brick structure consisting of nine arches. It was completed in 1840 under the supervision of Captain C. E. Faber. The 20 ft-wide bridge cost $8,690 to build. To cater to increased traffic between the north and south of town, this bridge was replaced in 1865 by a timber bridge, whilst retaining the name, Coleman Bridge. However, it was not well constructed and was again replaced on 10 July 1886. Initially named "New Bridge", this third three-lane bridge was once one of Singapore's most elegant bridges with graceful shallow arches, decorative columns, ornamental gas lamp stands and intricate iron balustrades. 

It was widened in April 1986, resulting in the fourth Coleman Bridge being completed in February 1990. This bridge was part of the New Bridge Road Widening Scheme which aimed at easing traffic congestion by planning for better bus routing and bringing to completion the two-way traffic scheme from Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road via Kallang Road to the Lavender Street and Crawford Street junction. Two underpasses also allowed pedestrian access to the riverside walkways. This new twin-bridge with four lanes was built by the Public Works Department (PWD). It strove to retain as much architectural and decorative features of the 1886 iron bridge, such as the columns, lampposts and arched support. A much deeper foundation had to be sunk in to accommodate this bridge extension.

Things to take note of (Landmarks):

MICA Building
Rows of shophouses
A bungee structure
Boats along a river

Part #4: Along the way...

 What we saw

Along the way, we find that there are a lot of banks and offices around the area.

Also, there are statues that shows the activities that happened around the area in the past. For example, there were young boys jumping into the river, merchants interacting with each other, and coolies unloading goods.

What we infer from them

We infer that Singapore River has been a main part of business-making in Singapore, as in the past, merchants buy an sell their goods in this area, and now, this area, called the Central Business District, is also a main place for businesses, as there are many bank towers and business offices.

We predict that in the future, more technology will be introduced to the area to make businesses take place more efficiently, and that the River would be cleaner than it is now, even though it has made a large improvement from how it was like at first.


How it looks like:


Part #5: Anderson Bridge

Anderson Bridge, crosses the mouth of the Singapore River, connects Empress Place with Collyer Quay, and is in the Downtown Core located in the Central Region. Governor Sir John Anderson, K.C.M.G. Commander-in-Chief of the Straits Settlements, for which it was named after, declared it officially opened in 1910.

Made of steel, Anderson Bridge's basic arched structure serves as a functional support. It also has three steel arches with powerful ribs, two rusticated archways and a fluted pier at each end. Erected across the mouth of the Singapore River between 1908-1910 by the Public Works Department, the superstructure was constructed by contractor Howarth Erskine Ltd and the bridge itself built by A. Butments - The Westminster Construction Co. Ltd. The plaque on the bridge is of a stone specially imported from Egypt. Built just after the reclamation of the south bank of the Singapore River, it was opened on 12 March 1910, by its namesake, Sir John Anderson, K. C. M. G. Governor of the Straits Settlements and High Commissioner for the Federated Malay States (1904 - 1911).

Anderson Bridge was built to cope with the city's growing vehicular and pedestrian traffic, the load of which Cavenagh Bridge could not handle. It was meant to replace Cavenagh Bridge, a more primitive bridge which proved too low for vessels during high tide. However, Cavenagh Bridge was spared from demolition and converted into a pedestrian bridge instead. During the World War II and the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese displayed heads of beheaded spies, on the steel columns of the bridge. Anderson Bridge was refurbished in 1987.

Things to take note of (Landmarks):

Asian Civilisations Museum
The Esplanade
Marina Bay Sands (you can see it from here)
The Marquis Monument


Part #6: Asian Civilisations Museum

The Asian Civilisations Museum (ACM) is the first museum in the region to present a broad yet integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations. As one of the National Museums of Singapore under the National Heritage Board, we seek to promote a better appreciation of the rich cultures that make up Singapore's multi-ethnic society.

While Singapore's forefathers came to settle in Singapore from many parts of Asia within the last 200 years, the cultures brought to Singapore by these different people are far more ancient. This aspect of Singapore's history is the focus of the ACM. The Museum's collection therefore centres on the material cultures of the different groups originating from China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia.

Its first premises at Armenian Street was opened on 21 April 1997 by then Deputy PM Lee Hsien Loong, with two-thirds of its galleries showcasing the Chinese civilisation. Later on, its displays focused on the Peranakan culture, featuring fine collections of Peranakan silver, porcelain and jewellery and a re-creation of a monumental altar from the mansion of one of the wealthiest Peranakan families in Singapore. The Armenian Street building closed at the end of 2005, to be redeveloped into a brand new Peranakan Museum. Operated and managed by the Asian Civilisations Museum, the Peranakan Museum was officially opened on 25 April 2008 by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong. 

The Asian Civilisations Museum's flagship at Empress Place opened on 2 March 2003. Occupying over 14,000 square metres at the newly-restored Empress Place Building, it houses 11 galleries which showcase over 1300 artefacts from the Museum's growing collections on the civilisations of China, Southeast Asia, South Asia and West Asia/ Islamic. These collections include recent acquisitions as well as artefacts inherited from the historic Southeast Asian ethnographic collection of the former Raffles Museum. Visitors can enjoy a programme of changing special exhibitions throughout the year.

Things to take note of (Landmarks):

Anderson Bridge
Cavenagh Bridge
The Esplanade (you can see it from here)
The Marquis Monument

Part #7: Asian Civilisations Museum - Chinese civilisation

The path through the Kwek Hong Png China Gallery takes the winding form of the dragon, one of the most important symbols in Chinese culture. The Emperor was known as tianzi, the Son of Heaven. A sumptuous Dragon Robe, which embodies within it the majesty, power and status of the emperor, hangs near a collection of delicate imperial porcelains. Facing this is a display on ancestral worship and filial piety. In Chinese society, the patriarchal system, based on Confucianism, placed the father at the head of the family, just as the emperor was the head of state. Great care was taken to respect and look after one's elders and ancestors. Many stories were written to eulogise exceptionally filial acts.

A route to social advancement was through one's prowess as a scholar. The term literati, with its suggestion of idle ease, does not reveal the hardship scholars endured to achieve their official rank. The rigorous system of imperial examinations ensured that only those prepared to persevere could ever hope to succeed. The paintings and calligraphy on display are the serene surface of the highly politicised and sometimes tragic lives of Chinese officials.
The export of ceramics was an important private trade for over a thousand years. Chinese ceramics were sought after around the world, and give an insight into how Chinese artisans and merchants adapted this product to suit the different tastes and requirements of their international trading partners.
A space that suggests a cave temple is the setting for Buddhist stone statues and reliefs, some dating back to the 7th century CE. Large Buddhist figures in wood and smaller ones in gilt bronze are placed together with contemporary Daoist objects, showing the continuity of religious expression in Chinese society.

The museum has a well known collection of white Dehua porcelain. Also known as 'blanc de chine', these finely moulded pieces from the Ming and Qing periods were produced in Fujian province in southern China.

Artefact #1: Calligraphy materials

Paintbrush: to write with
Inkslabs: to create ink
Seals: to authorise

Difference between then and now:
Then: A seal is used to authorise/authenticate a document.
Now: We just sign a unique signature of our own, which is much safer, for it is harder for someone to ‘steal’ it.

 Artefact #2: Wine Ewer

To store wine (made out of clay)

Difference between then and now:
Then: Wine ewers are used to store wine.
Now: We use glass bottles to store wine.

Artefact #3: Clay bowls

For serving food

Difference between then and now:
Then: Clay bowls were commonly used as utensils.
Now: We have bowls of not only clay, but plastic and metal as well.