Kim Seng Road

Singapore Infopedia

by Cornelius, Vernon


Kim Seng Road was named after well-known Peranakan philanthropist and businessman Tan Kim Seng, who also founded the firm Kim Seng & Company.1 The street gained Tan’s name as he contributed financially to the building of the thoroughfare.2 Kim Seng Constituency also took its name after Tan.3

Kim Seng Bridge, the most westerly of the nine bridges crossing the Singapore River,4 carries Kim Seng Road from River Valley Road to Havelock Road,5 where Tan Kim Seng’s property used to be.6 It also marks the supposed source of the Singapore River, and its upper reaches flows as the Alexandra Canal.7

Landmarks on Kim Seng Road include Panglima Prang (Admiral of the Fleet), the early home of Tan Kim Seng’s grandson, Tan Jiak Kim. The house was built on River Valley Road in the 1860s, and was demolished in 1982.8 

Times House, which was also built in the 1960s, was another recognisable landmark on Kim Seng Road.9 It was demolished in April 2004, and the site was sold to Wheelock Properties (previously known as Marco Polo Development) for S$118.8 million. The site is now occupied by a 36-storey condominium block, The Cosmopolitan.10 

In the 1990s, new developments along Kim Seng Road include Tiara Condominium Apartments,11 Mirage Tower Apartments,12 King’s Centre,13 and Great World City.

Great World City Shopping Centre, which was built where Great World Amusement Park entertainment and recreation centre used to be,14 underwent redevelopment in 2018. Works are slated for completion by 2020. By then, the mall will have three main access points to a new Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station – Great World station.15 Great World station, which is part of the Thomson-East Coast Line, will be located near Kim Seng Road and River Valley Road. The station is expected to be completed by 2021.16

Variant names
Chinese name: In Hokkien Hong Hin lo, and its Cantonese variant Fung heng lo which means “Hong Hin Road” where Hong Hin refers to the seal of philanthropist Tan Kim Seng.17


Vernon Cornelius

1. S. Durai Raja-Singam, Malayan Street Names: What They Mean and Whom They Commemorate (Ipoh: Mercantile Press, 1939), 116 (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 RAJ); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Singapore Street Names: A Study of Toponymics (Singapore: Marshall Cavendish Editions, 2013), 214–15. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
2. Raja-Singam, Malayan Street Names, 116.
3. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 214.
4. Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 500. (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA])
5. Raja-Singam, Malayan Street Names, 116; Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 500.
6. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 215.
7. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 510.
8. Savage and Yeoh, Singapore Street Names, 215.
9. Arti Mulchand, “Changing Times,” Straits Times, 5 April 2004, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
10. Joyce Teo, “Luxury Freehold Condo at Ex-Times House Site,” Straits Times, 12 March 2005, 3. (From NewspaperSG)
11. Kalpana Rashiwala, “OCBC Gets Nod to Develop Site on Kim Seng Road,” Straits Times, 14 March 1996, 40. (From NewspaperSG)
12. A. J. Leow and Ven Sreenivasan, “Mirage Tower Condos Set New Benchmark Prices,” Business Times, 5 March 1994, 1. (From NewspaperSG)
13. “New Theatre?” New Paper, 29 October 1997, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
14. Kelvin Tong, “Great World,” Straits Times, 11 October 1997, 4. (From NewspaperSG)
15. Lim Yi Han, “Work Starts on 6 More Stations of Thomson-East Coast Line,” Straits Times, 8 March 2015, 17 (From NewsaperSG); “Location Maps and Station,” Land Transport Authority, n.d
16. T. F. Tay, “New Food, Retail Options as Part of Great World City Revamp,” Straits Times, 8 December 2018. (From Factiva via NLB’s eResources website)
17. 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): 102–03 (Call no. RQUIK 959.5 JMBRAS); Mubin Sheppard, ed., Singapore 150 Years (Singapore: Times Books International, 1982), 213. (Call no. RSING 959.57 SIN-[HIS])

The information in this article is valid as at April 2019 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.


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