Published on 27 June 2017

Step back in time and revisit popular hangouts in Singapore that are long gone.


Empress Place Food Centre

Credit: National Archives of Singapore

Back in the old days, this was al fresco dining at its finest. The Empress Place Food Centre, which opened in 1973, offered an idyllic view of Singapore River with a mouthwatering, affordable array of hawker fare. Popular with CBD office workers and boatmen, this beloved food spot had to go in 1983, when Singapore River went through a major clean-up.

New World Amusement Park

Credit: National Archives of Singapore

This was the first amusement park set up in Singapore in 1923. It was a prominent, lively landmark along Jalan Besar where one could catch cabarets, Chinese and Malay opera, and wrestling matches at night. There were also restaurants, open-air cinemas, shooting galleries and rides such as bumper cars, a merry-go-round and a Ferris wheel. As shopping centres, discos and TV became more popular from the 1960s, the park business became poor and was closed in 1987.

Old National Library

Credit: National Library Board

This unassuming 1960 red-bricked building was the rite of passage for many students who came here to study or hang out. The library was closed in 2004 to make way for the Fort Canning Tunnel. There was much public protest when this building was torn down in 2005, and this incident created greater awareness on the importance of heritage conservation in Singapore.

Singapore National Theatre

Credit: Record Breakers Singapore

This iconic theatre in River Valley Road was first built in 1963 to commemorate Singapore’s self-government then. Its five-pointed façade represented the five stars of the Singapore flag. It had 3,420 seats and housed National Day Rallies, cultural festivals, beauty pageants and pop concerts. It was demolished in 1986 to make way for the construction of MRT lines.

Van Kleef Aquarium

Credit: National Archives of Singapore

In 1930, Dutch businessman Karl van Kleef left $160,000 to Singapore when he died and the colonial government used this money to build one of Southeast Asia’s most famous aquariums. It opened in 1955 at Fort Canning Park and withun three months, over 150,000 people had visited the attraction. It closed in 1991 due to falling visitorship, and was demolished in 1998.

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