View Full Version : 'Old' Streetscapes - Balestier Road
October 22nd, 2005, 03:50 PM
What are your impressions of the Balestier area?
I think its one of those places that actually offer quite a bit to see but is somehow off the tourist track. Nevertheless it shows certain aspects of life in Singapore...it lacks the sophistication and modernity of the CBD, and is currently in a state sandwiched between the old and new.
Anyway here are some pics taken from there. Will post more later...feel free to share yours :)
October 22nd, 2005, 03:51 PM
October 22nd, 2005, 03:52 PM
A nice place for food..... :cheers:
October 22nd, 2005, 03:55 PM
thats true...that was the first impression I had too :D
anyway here's my impression:
lots of food
cheesy low cost hotels
old residentials that can fight with Hong Kong :lol:
temples and more temples!
but recently there has been a condo boom in the area...so there should be more scenes of contrast
October 22nd, 2005, 04:15 PM
some 'food scenes'
October 22nd, 2005, 04:22 PM
Just had boon tong kee chicken rice today. :)
October 22nd, 2005, 04:29 PM
Balestier can get quite colourful at night too...some of the shophouses are well lit up :happy:
October 22nd, 2005, 04:32 PM
October 22nd, 2005, 04:39 PM
Yes...the 'sweet-wrapper' shophouse is one of them :yes:
Really lovely old-world shophouse architecture down there:
October 22nd, 2005, 04:43 PM
hakka dishes. hmmm... tried before??? One of these days, have dinner there? :D
October 22nd, 2005, 05:24 PM
raffie..in the first pic..the building to the left,reminds me of new construction here in Sweden..mostly in the cities Vasteras and Trollhattan.Actually pretty much the same design,will post pics of it:yes:
October 22nd, 2005, 05:38 PM
@hya..why not...hakka dishes... :O
@drwho...oh..do you like it? its a newly completed building...pretty common condo design here, but this one has shops below :)
October 22nd, 2005, 06:17 PM
yeap like it:yes:,,,but looks expensive ;) :)
Nick in Atlanta
October 22nd, 2005, 08:29 PM
That is a beautiful area of Singapore. Great shots too.
October 22nd, 2005, 09:33 PM
Very colourful :cheers:
October 23rd, 2005, 04:10 AM
yeah another nice traditional area of Singapore.:)
October 24th, 2005, 03:41 PM
The last shophouses looks so luxurious!!! :eek:
One of my favourites!!!
Must go there and Jalan Besar for a mega photo shoot one day soon. And also Little India! :cool:
October 24th, 2005, 05:13 PM
My mother told me I was delivered by a midwife from KK hospital in one of these shop house flats. So I guess it is hometown to me.
October 24th, 2005, 05:16 PM
Welcome to the forum, DoorKeeper! :)
Hope you would stay long with us.
October 24th, 2005, 05:24 PM
Welcome to the forum, DoorKeeper! :)
Hope you would stay long with us.
Thank you. Have been admiring so many of your pictures. :okay:
October 24th, 2005, 05:34 PM
October 25th, 2005, 11:09 PM
singapore is beautiful! i gotta visit there some day since flying there from macao is so cheap now
October 26th, 2005, 11:00 AM
Nice parts of Singapore
October 26th, 2005, 12:42 PM
Such a colorful and lively city :) I love it
December 29th, 2005, 07:00 AM
some background to the name...
Balestier - first US consul to S'pore
29 Dec 05
THE first official United States government presence in Singapore was its consul Joseph Balestier. A New Englander, he lived in the colony for 18 years and is arguably the best-known Ameri- can resident in the island's history, although little is known about his life before he arrived in Singapore.
In Singapore, he had significant prominence, and a road and a district are named after him.
In the years after his service in Singapore, he led a diplomatic mission to several nations in South-east Asia to negotiate treaties between them and the United States.
Though largely unsuccessful, his commitment to and interest in the relations between his country and South-east Asia were considerable.
Balestier was originally appointed by President Andrew Jackson in 1833 to be the American Consul at Riau, just south of Singapore, at that time under Dutch control.
By the 1815 Treaty of Commerce and Navigation, American trade was excluded in Singapore, and the consul's primary responsibilities were to assist American shipping in Riau.
Balestier, however, took up residence in Singapore and commuted to Riau.
He spent his first years lobbying Washington to change his appointment to Singapore, as he recognised Singapore's importance as a crossroads of trade and was determined to cement ties between the British port and the United States.
He was indefatigable in his efforts to end the restrictions on American trade.
He wrote repeatedly to the US Secretary of State, beseeching him to intervene with the authorities in London.
He also appealed to British officials in Singapore, asking the governor to take up the case of American trade with the East India Company, and he wrote letters to the Singapore press to drum up public support.
American trade with Singapore was legalised in 1836 and Balestier's status as consul was recognised by the British in 1837.
All restrictions were finally lifted in 1840 as a result of the efforts of men such as Edmund Roberts (who had been appointed by the US State Department to negotiate trade treaties in the region) and Balestier, pressure from the British business community in Singapore and probably, most importantly, the push from many of the powerful in Britain for worldwide British free trade.
The free trade initiative culminated with the repeal of the Corn Laws and the Navigations Acts in Britain and opened the entire coastal trade of British India.
Some might say that Balestier's efforts were in his personal best interests. Like other American consuls of the time, Balestier's government income was meagre.
It was understood that consuls would supplement their salaries with business interests, which in Balestier's case were extensive. He was a sugar planter with an estate of some 400ha and a shipping agent and ship chandler.
In 1837, when limited trade was opened to American ships in Singapore, Balestier's company serviced 15 of the first 16 American ships that arrived in the harbour.
As a merchant, he provided cargo for ships and sold their cargo in Singapore. Thus, any increase in American shipping and trade in the colony was bound to benefit him personally.
Balestier and his wife Maria were prominent figures in the Singapore community. He was a founding member of Singapore's first Chamber of Commerce and served on its committee for almost a decade. He was also a driving force behind the creation of a horticultural society and wrote articles about the cultivation of plantation crops in Singapore.
When he left Singapore, his good friend and governor of the colony William Butterworth assured him that 'the name of Balestier, the American Consul at Singapore, will have a leading place in the hearts of many and in the minds of all' and that he took with him 'the greatest respect and highest esteem of the community'.
Maria Revere Balestier was the daughter of Paul Revere, a folk hero of the American Revolution and master silversmith. She donated a steeple bell made by the family firm in Boston to St Andrew's Cathedral in Singapore.
For almost 40 years, the Revere bell called people to worship and was used to signal such events as the beginning of the daily curfew. Today, the bell sits in the lobby of the American Embassy in Singapore, on loan from the Singapore History Museum.
Balestier's plantation was not very successful because of the British import duty on Singapore-grown sugar. He also suffered personal tragedy when his son Joseph Warren died in 1844 at the age of 24 and when his wife died in 1847.
In 1848, his property was sold at auction to pay his debts. He held on to his consular position, telling the US State Department that his departure was temporary because he needed a rest from the climate and time to grieve for his wife.
Balestier returned to Washington, where he convinced Secretary of State Daniel Webster to send him on a diplomatic mission to China, Cochin China (Vietnam), Siam, Borneo and Sumatra.
The fact that America had recently become a Pacific nation with the acquisition of the California territory, and that trade with Asian nations would inevitably increase as a result, probably helped his request.
But from the outset, Balestier's mission was beset with difficulties. His relations with Commodore P.F. Voorhees of the East India Squadron, who was to take him on his journey, began badly and became worse as the voyage progressed.
Balestier communicated their disagreements to the Secretary of State on a regular basis with copies to Voorhees, which aggravated the relationship.
His letters began with complaints about his accommodations and negative comments about the way Voorhees ran his ship, the Plymouth.
Balestier blamed Voorhees for the failure of his mission to Siam. Voorhees' failure to send a military escort with Balestier when he met with high-ranking officials lowered the envoy's prestige in the eyes of the Siamese, Balestier argued.
After visiting Brunei, about halfway into the expedition, Voorhees insisted on returning to Macau. It was time for the Plymouth to return home, and Balestier could presumably continue his mission on the new American flagship that was due to arrive in South-east Asia.
Balestier claimed that had they continued the voyage as originally scheduled, they would have saved an American ship that was attacked by pirates along their intended route.
From the Navy's point of view, Balestier was an unwelcome guest. It appears that the ship was close to the end of its tour of duty in the East and that the commodore had no great desire to head off on an ill-defined diplomatic mission throughout South-east Asia.
In Siam, Voorhees had refused to let his men escort Balestier on shore because of a reported cholera epidemic. Back in Macau, Balestier tired of waiting for the new ship and headed for Singapore and Batavia on his own.
He had the impression that the new flagship would pick him up in Batavia and planned to return to Sarawak and then visit ports in Sumatra, including Aceh.
No doubt, he also planned to return to Singapore in style on the flagship, perhaps to improve his image there.
He spent six months waiting for the ship and further communication from Washington, finally receiving a letter terminating his mission. Half-broke and in ill health, Balestier returned to the United States.
The one success of Balestier's journey was a treaty with the Sultan of Brunei. It stipulated freedom of trade between the two countries, the right for citizens of the United States to acquire property in Brunei and 'privileges and advantages with respect to commerce or otherwise which are now or may be hereafter granted to the citizens of the most favoured nation'.
Balestier was also mending fences. A few years earlier, an American mission had failed in an attempt to obtain a treaty with the sultan because the American interpreter was drunk and insulted his hosts.
His visit to Siam was intended to be a follow-up on the 1834 Roberts mission but was unsuccessful.
Balestier's problems in Siam went much deeper than his lack of a suitable military escort. He felt frustrated by the Siamese bureaucracy and was convinced that the civil servants had thwarted his mission.
There definitely were some problems. Voorhees later produced communications from the Siamese admiral that claimed that Balestier had been rude and insulting to his hosts.
In Cochin China, the royal court refused to meet with Balestier in part because of previous dealings with him in Singapore.
While Balestier was the American Consul there, the Vietnamese had sent a delegation to him to protest the bombing of a Vietnamese coastal town by an American ship.
Balestier did not have the power to resolve the issue and referred the delegation to Washington. The Vietnamese had no reason to think he had now become a man of influence.
Voorhees arrived home ahead of Balestier and his version of events appears to have created controversy in Washington.
On at least two occasions, in 1850 and 1852, the Senate asked to see the correspondence between Balestier and the State Department.
The early termination of his mission and the Senate's interest were probably results of the political climate in Washington at that time.
Partisan sectional politics were at a fever pitch over the question of slavery in the recently acquired Mexican territories.
President Zachary Taylor was under attack from his former Southern allies because he was not as supportive of the expansion of slavery as they had hoped.
His administration hardly wanted an obscure diplomat causing controversy in the South China Sea by seeking treaties with Malays.
The image of Malays had been firmly fixed in American eyes, and at a time when race was so much a part of the national discourse, Balestier's intention to negotiate with the 'savages' and 'pirates' of Borneo and Sumatra could hardly have been a welcome complication.
Balestier's mission was part of a greater American mission.
In the 50 years before the Civil War, American interest in the Pacific grew dramatically.
January 2nd, 2006, 03:35 AM
Jan 2, 2006
Jalan Besar to get $517m makeover
Riverfront promenades included in plan to breathe new life into GRC
By Daryl Loo
BOATHOUSES and riverfront promenades are planned for Jalan Besar residents as part of a $517 million facelift centred on two rivers - Sungei Whampoa and Kallang River - that flow through the area.
'We aim to turn Jalan Besar Town into one huge happy modern 'kampung' in the city, where residents live... as members of one big extended family,' said Dr Lee Boon Yang, an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, at the unveiling of a five-year plan yesterday.
The upgrading aims to breathe new life into the GRC. The constituency comprises ageing wards like Jalan Besar, Kreta-Ayer-Kim Seng, Kampong Glam, Kolam Ayer and Whampoa.
Dr Lee, who is also Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, said masterplans for Jalan Besar of the past 10 years had focused on fulfilling residents' basic needs, and it was now timely to shift to areas that will improve community ties.
Town council chairman Lily Neo, who is also an MP for Jalan Besar GRC, said the town was unique among GRCs in having rivers that link all five wards and they will be beautified so more residents use them.
She unveiled the plan at a family day at MacRitchie Reservoir, attended by about 3,000 Jalan Besar residents. Also present were other Jalan Besar MPs - Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, Mr Heng Chee How, Mr Loh Meng See and Dr Lee.
Jalan Besar, with over 55,000 HDB households, is the fifth town council run by the People's Action Party (PAP) since last October to announce a multi-million-dollar five-year plan. Aljunied, East Coast, Tampines and Sembawang town councils had earlier announced their own plans ahead of a widely expected General Election.
According to Dr Neo, the Jalan Besar town council is spending $30 million of its own money on the riverfront project, as well as features like surveillance systems installed on all upgraded lifts, and elderly-friendly improvements like handrails and ramps.
The remaining $487 million will come from estate upgrading schemes such as the HDB's Lift Upgrading and Main Upgrading Programmes, and the Selective En-bloc Redevelopment Scheme.
Such plans have been seen as the PAP's pre-election sweeteners, but opposition politician Sin Kek Tong insisted Singaporeans will no longer be swayed by such offerings, 'as it is the Government's duty to provide them anyway'.
The 60-year-old businessman, who is chairman of the Singapore People's Party and a committee member of the Singapore Democratic Alliance (SDA), led an SDA team that lost the 2001 contest for Jalan Besar GRC.
The SDA intends to field another five-man team there in the upcoming election, said Mr Sin. He said the new team's platform in Jalan Besar will be centred on getting alternative voices into Parliament.
Still, Jalan Besar residents interviewed responded warmly to the upgrading, which many felt would make their estates more attractive and raise the value of their flats.
Retiree Mr K.S. Sim, 63, who lives in Kampong Glam, said: 'Marine Parade has always been famous for being near the sea. Now, we will be famous for our rivers.'
Whampoa resident Amidah Wahab, 44, who has a five-year-old son, added: 'The rivers are very dirty now. If they add all the new facilities, it will be a fun place to bring my boy.'
Dr Yaacob, who is also Environment and Water Resources Minister, said he pictured residents involved in activities along the river bank like barbecues, cycling and fishing and using the waterways for 'kayaking, dragon-boating, even sailing'.
He said the river projects were possible mainly because of the Marina Barrage, a dam being built across Marina Bay to create a new reservoir.
When the dam is completed by next year, 'all the rivers feeding into the reservoir will have almost constant levels, with no tides, which means residents can take advantage of the waters.'
Copyright © 2005 Singapore Press Holdings. All rights reserved.
January 3rd, 2006, 02:27 PM
^^ Balestier is close but not part of Jalan Besar, isn't it?
July 30th, 2006, 04:02 PM
hmm yah...Jalan Besar is nearer to town....
Some night pics from Balestier Rd:
July 30th, 2006, 04:02 PM
3. This shophouse facade is simply lovely
July 30th, 2006, 04:52 PM
July 30th, 2006, 05:04 PM
July 30th, 2006, 05:07 PM
i think there's a little kampong house at the junction with Jalan Datoh.
August 2nd, 2006, 04:05 PM
oh I think I've seen it...next to the petrol station if I'm not wrong...it looks like a repair-shop or something...
$10m upgrading for Whampoa Market/Food Centre
2 Aug 06
The Whampoa Drive Market and Food Centre is slated for a $10m makeover under the National Environment Agency's Hawker Centres Upgrading Programme (HUP).
This will include improving the ventilation of the centre and upgrading all existing electrical, plumbing and sanitary systems.
The upgrading will take about one year to complete.
During this interim period, existing stallholders will operate their businesses in a temporary market located in front of Block 77, Lorong Limau.
To date, 53 centres have been upgraded by NEA under the HUP.
By Adelyn Lim, Channel NewsAsia
August 12th, 2006, 07:06 PM
muy hermosa la ciudad, me fascina, tan moderna y a la vez tan tradicional.
October 27th, 2006, 11:13 AM
Tender for the former Balestier market has been awarded (http://www.gebiz.gov.sg/scripts/main.do;wlsessionid=FBG3lP4xGSwenqZnqAWwTjp36q6XB6LvOqeZEv0GruHBHENf9F90!1086426720!-1604275349!7001!-1!NONE?tab=award)...the old market could be opening up again after its closure of the last few years
October 27th, 2006, 01:55 PM
Is the old maket the small one with red roofs?
October 28th, 2006, 01:34 PM
April 12th, 2008, 01:02 PM
Residential terraces off the main road
April 12th, 2008, 04:42 PM
I'm seeing some reno works at the old market. I think the structure would be preserved.
June 9th, 2008, 05:36 AM
the market upgrade has been completed. have a look n tell me what you guys tink ;)
June 9th, 2008, 07:16 AM
The area kind of reminds me of Penang's suburb areas
June 9th, 2008, 01:41 PM
Balestier area reminds me somewhat of Bangkok, with its many temples and the constant sound of traffic and the crazy mixture of buildings. I hope there will be some roadside improvements to make the area more pleasant.
the market upgrade has been completed. have a look n tell me what you guys tink ;)
Thanks for the update. Will try to get some snaps:cheers:
February 23rd, 2009, 01:56 PM
Up-and-coming Balestier Set to Create Buzz
Recognised for its strong heritage value and distinctive old world charm, Balestier was identified as one of Singapore’s identity nodes under the Identity Plan in 2002. The recent award of the hotel site at Balestier Road will further serve as a catalyst for the rejuvenation and transformation of the area.
A treasure trove of cultural and architectural references, Balestier Road offers a compelling blend of old and new with more than 160 years of history. The juxtaposition of heritage shophouses from the 1800s with new buildings tells of its significant past and vibrant present.
Balestier has evolved over the years and many of us associate the area with its numerous lighting shops, hardware and home fi ttings shops, and shops selling delicious local fares such as Bak Kut Teh and Tau Sar Pia.
The area is rich in history, home to an interesting mix of conserved shophouses built in the 1840s, and monuments such as the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. The Hall is a national monument that pays tribute to Dr Sun Yat Sen, the father of the 1911 Chinese Revolution.
Since the release of the Identity Plan in 2002, URA has studied the Balestier area and gazetted many conservation buildings in the area as part of the Old World Charm conservation proposals. Today, about 150 shophouses have been gazetted for conservation.
Balestier will be further transformed with the recent sale of the hotel site at Balestier Road to HH Properties in August this year.
With excellent frontage along Balestier Road, the hotel site is just a stone’s throw away from the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. A unique aspect of this future hotel development is a 0.46 ha public park named “Zhongshan Park”, to be built and managed by the developer.
This unique integrated hotel-park development is the first of its kind in Singapore and is intended to celebrate its connections to the rich cultural history and architecture of the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall. It will add character and variety to the hotel mix in Singapore which is part of the government’s tourism effort in enhancing visitors’ experience.
Given the strong cultural and historical significance, visitors interested in discovering more about Singapore’s cultural heritage may visit the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and Zhongshan Park and stay at the Balestier Road hotel nearby to complement their cultural experience.
All these are part of URA’s planning initiatives to facilitate a unique integrated hotel and park development to kick start the rejuvenation of the Balestier area.
The sale of the 1.77 ha site provides the opportunity for a distinctive contemporary hotel that integrates seamlessly with the Zhongshan Park and synergises with the Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and the surrounding heritage shophouses. The unique landmark development at this site will add to the vibrancy and enhancement of the environmental quality of the greater Balestier area.
A public event space will also be provided within the northern corner of the Zhongshan Park. This event space will form part of the pedestrian network for the area and serve as a gathering place for the staging of events and activities that will activate and enhance the vibrancy of the park.
To further enhance visitors’ experience to area, URA also has plans to improve the walkways and landscaping in the neighbourhood.
February 23rd, 2009, 02:24 PM
I'll rather have a laid back and AUTHENTIC area rather than "buzz"