Comments on article: InfopediaTalk
Banda Street, a very short one-way road in Chinatown, connects Sago Street to Dickenson Road. It was probably named after Indonesian places of Banda Acheh (Aceh) in Sumatra or Banda Besar in Molucca Islands.
Banda Street exists atop a small hill known as Banda Hill. Banda Hill was a part of Ryan's Hill. For some reason unknown, the name of Ryan Hill was frequently changed. First owned by Charles Ryan, it was sold in 1827 to Hugh Syme. Renamed Dickinson's Hill or Dickenson Hill after the Reverend J.T. Dickenson who ran a missionary school there, it was rechristened as Bukit Padre. Its name was again changed to Bukit Passoh or Bukit Pasoh later, the name by which it is currently known. In the early 20th century the nutmeg tree covered hill was converted into a park . Though the park was appreciated and well used by residents of Chinatown, Banda Street itself had a notorious reputation. It was a red-light area from 1901 to 1930. Forming junctions with Sago Street, Sago Lane and Spring Street, which were all notorious for Japanese prostitutes, it was natural for Banda Street to be a part of the infamous racquet as well. The street also had shops selling funeral items on it. With funeral parlours and death houses located on Sago Lane, selling things used in a funeral was good business for the merchants on Banda Street until death parlours were banned in 1961. Banda Street was well known for its late night food vendors, who mainly earned their living selling food to late night mourners, and for Jinrickshaw depots situated around the street. Notwithstanding its past woeful legacy, Banda Street however is very much different today. The road presently is a part of the Chinatown conservation area and is lined with residential and commercial units. The Kreta Ayer Community Centre, in the vicinity of Banda Street, was built in 1960 and was originally known as Banda Street Community Centre.
(1) In Cantonese: Fan-tsai mei, meaning "end of the foreign brothels". The "foreign" brothels here either refers to the non-Chinese or "foreign" Japanese prostitutes or to the "foreign" customers they catered to. While Japanese prostitutes catered to customers of all races, the Chinese women limited themselves only to Chinese customers.
(2) In Cantonese: Yap poon kai, meaning "Japanese Street", a reference to the Japanese prostitutes on this street.
Naidu Ratnala Thulaja
Buckley, C. B. (1984). An anecdotal history of old times in Singapore: 1819-1867 (p. 346). Singapore: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 BUC)
Chinatown: An album of a Singapore community (pp. 110-119). (1983). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 779. 995957 CHI)
Dunlop, P. K. G. (2000). Street names of Singapore (p. 14). Singapore: Who's Who Publications.
(Call no.: RSING 959.57 DUN)
Savage, V. R., & Yeoh, B. S. A. (2003). Toponymics: A study of Singapore street names (pp. 47, 69, 336). Singapore: Eastern Universities Press.
(Call no.: RSING 915.9570014 SAV)
Firmstone, H. W. (1905, January). Chinese names of streets and places in Singapore and the Malay Peninsula. Journal of the Straits Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 4, 60-61.
(Call no.: RSING 959.5 FIR-[IC])
Chan, K. S. (1999, March 13). No love lost for the old "street of the dead'. The Straits Times, Life, p. 7.
Kong, L. (1992, July 23). Comfort in history. The Straits Times, Life, p. 3.
Chan, K. S. (2001, October 29). Of snails, speeches and dead traitors. The Straits Times, Life, p. 6.
List of Images
Chinatown: An album of a Singapore community (pp. 114-115) (1983). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: RSING 779. 995957 CHI)
The information in this article is valid as at 2003 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.