joo chiat: singapore’s first heritage town

at first glance, singapore might seem like a bland, highly industrialized and modern city but surprise, surprise: it does have a bit of character too.

and i don’t mean the merlion.

because in the eastern part of it is where you will see rows upon rows of conserved shophouses and/or apartments reminiscent of pre-war architecture with colors so bright it will burn your eyes. i kid. the color combinations are actually aesthetically pleasing my boring wardrobe palette should start taking notes.

but most of all, the windows. how can you not love these windows?

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to indulge the history geek in you, joo chiat used to be a coconut and cotton plantation in the 1820’s. apparently, it was also where the wealthy families retreated for a little bit of r&r, who had country houses and seaside bungalows built in the area.

joo chiat got its name from a number of a number of roads in the area named after chew joo chiat, a migrant from china turned wealthy philanthropist, who had made his fortune as a trader before becoming a plantation owner, cultivating gambier (an astringent extract), nutmeg and coconut. (source)

the roads that have his name on it?

joo chiat road. joo chiat lane. joo chiat terrace. joo chiat place.

not to mention the local post office, market, and police station also bearing his name.

no wonder it felt like i was seeing way too many joo chiat’s on the street signs. joo chiats everywhere!

so if you ever find yourself in singapore yearning for a bit of culture, go on a food trip, or simply walk around taking pictures of interesting architecture, this might just be the place.

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