Eu Tong Sen Street



Singapore Infopedia

by Thulaja, Naidu Ratnala

Background

Eu Tong Sen Street begins from a stretch of road formed by the meeting of two roads, Jalan Bukit Merah and Kampong Bahru Road, and ends at the junction of Hill Street, Fort Canning Rise and Coleman Street. An artery of the Chinatown hub and a shopping haven, the street was named after Eu Tong Sen, a wealthy tin miner and rubber planter from Perak, Malaysia.1

History
Jalan Bukit Merah and Kampong Bahru Road meet to form a single major road that later branches into two parallel roads, Eu Tong Sen Street and New Bridge Road. Eu Tong Sen Street leads to Clarke Quay before ending at Coleman Bridge at the junction of Hill Street, Fort Canning Rise and Coleman Street. Eu Tong Sen Street was previously called Wayang Street and was renamed in 1919. There are two explanations to why the street is attributed to him: One is that it was in recognition of his contributions of a tank and a scout fighter plane in support British war efforts during World War I. The other is that Eu rebuilt the street and bought over two existing Chinese opera theatres (Heng Seng Peng and Heng Wai Sun, now People’s Park Complex). An eight-lane carriageway was constructed in the late 1980s to merge New Bridge Road and Eu Tong Sen Street.2


Description
Located along Eu Tong Sen Street is Yue Hwa Department Store, formerly the Great Southern Hotel. The hotel, built in 1927, was the first Chinese hotel to have a lift. The building was also popularly known as Nam Tin (meaning “Southern sky” in Cantonese). This conserved building was the tallest building in Chinatown in the 1930s and won a heritage award in 1997.3

People’s Park Complex, built in 1970, was a retail shopping centre until 1973 when flats were added, turning it into a shopping-and-residential complex. The first building in Southeast Asia with such a feature, the complex provided a model that has been replicated throughout the region.4

The former Thong Chai Medical Institution was built in 1892, largely through the contributions of the Malaccan born philanthropist, Gan Eng Seng. It was the best known of the Chinese charity medical centres. Thong Chai means “benefit to all”, and here was where sinsehs (traditional Chinese doctors) dispensed free treatment, regardless of race. A national monument since 1973, it was earlier rented out as an arts and crafts centre before it was sold.5

The interior of the former Majestic Theatre was extensively re-furbished but the front façade of the old building was conserved. Originally built in 1927 by Eu Tong Sen, it was then called Tien Yien Moh Toi where Cantonese operas were staged. It was the renamed Queen’s Theatre before being called Majestic Theatre. It closed in 1998 and re-opened in 2003 as a three-storey shopping mall after an $8 million renovation.6 Other buildings found in the area are Furama Hotel, a distinctively palm-shaped structure,7 and Yangtze Building, which was renovated and upgraded in the 1990s into a business centre-and-cinema hall. The cinema closed in 2016.8



Author

Naidu Ratnala Thulaja



References
1. “New $17M 8-Lane Carriageway,” Straits Times, 25 September 1987, 16. (From NewspaperSG)
2. “New $17M 8-Lane Carriageway”; Peter K. G. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore (Singapore: Who’s Who Publishing, 2000), 78 (Call no. RSING 959.57 DUN-[HIS]); Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003), 122–3. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])
3. Byrne Bracken, Singapore: A Walking Tour (Singapore: Times Editions, 2002), 12‒15 (Call no. RSING 959.57 BYR-[HIS]); Robert Powell, Singapore Architecture (Hong Kong: Periplus Editions, 2004), 64 (Call no. RSING 720.95957 POW); “Nantian jiu lou xin zhang guanggao” 南天酒樓新張廣告 [The new advertisement of Nantian Restaurant], Nanyang Siang Pau 南洋商报, 14 February 1927, 6; Sit Yin Fong, “New Life for Old Chinatown Hotel as Retail Store,” Straits Times, 16 April 1994, 10. (From NewspaperSG)
4. Dunlop, Street Names of Singapore, 78; Norman Edwards and Peter Keys, Singapore: A Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places (Singapore: Times Books International, 1988), 401, 403, 407 (Call no. RSING 915.957 EDW-[TRA]); Henry Lim Li Shun, “What's So Majestic about Majestic?Straits Times, 24 February 2003, 18. (From NewspaperSG)
5. G. Byrne Bracken, Singapore: A Walking Tour (Singapore: Times Editions, 2002), 12‒15 (Call no. RSING 959.57 BYR-[HIS]); Edwin Lee, Historic Buildings of Singapore (Singapore: Preservation of Monuments Board, 1990), 59 (Call no. RSING 720.95957 LEE); L. Hee, “Consuming Culture: The Old Thong Chai Medical Building at Eu Tong Sen Street,” Singapore Architect no. 214 (2002): 88‒97. (Call no. RSING 720.5 SA)
6. Bracken, Walking Tour, 12–15; Savage and Yeoh, Study of Singapore Street Names, 122–3; Joyce Lim, Majestic Mall no Longer Majestic,” New Paper, 16 February 2003, 3; Krist Boo, “Majestic Again…,” Straits Times, 3 July 2002, 1; Loh Hsiao Ying, “Majestic Theatre’s Back,” Straits Times, 18 January 2003, L2. (From NewspaperSG)
7. Edwards and Keys, Guide to Buildings, Streets, Places, 401, 403, 407.
8. Caroline Chan, “New Business Centre-Cum-Cinema Complex at Chinatown By September,” Straits Times, 22 January 1990, 36; Yip Wai Yee, “Goodbye to Softcore Cinema Yangtze,” Straits Times, 1 March 2016, 14. (From NewspaperSG)



Further resources
Henry Lim Li Shun, “What's So Majestic about Majestic?Straits Times, 24 February 2003, 18. (From NewspaperSG)

L. Hee, “Consuming Culture: The Old Thong Chai Medical Building at Eu Tong Sen Street,” Singapore Architect no. 214 (2002): 88‒97. (Call no. RSING 720.5 SA)

Victor R. Savage and Brenda S. A. Yeoh, Toponymics: A Study of Singapore Street Names (Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003), 122–3. (Call no. RSING 915.9570014 SAV-[TRA])



The information in this article is valid as of 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.

 

 

 









 

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