We Love Tiong Bahru
Publisher: Epigram Books
Tiong Bahru is Singapore’s first public housing estate. Built in the 1930s by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), the original 784 flats, 54 tenements and 33 shops housed over 6,000 people.
Its name is uniquely Singaporean— ‘tiong’ is Hokkien for cemetery and ‘bahru’ is Malay for ‘new’—a reference to the presence of a burial ground in the area before the SIT development.
The neighbourhood was known as a ‘den of beauties’ in its early years, reputedly because the rich housed their mistresses here. Some of the old remains: the characteristic balconies and staircases of the buildings; its neighbourly spirit; its smallness, which means everything is within walking distance. The return of trendy eateries and modish lifestyle stores has also restored somewhat the allure of its early glamour years.