Many firsts for Singapore happened in the Orchard area – take for example the country's first supermarket, Cold Storage, which remains at its original location at Centrepoint Shopping Centre.
The new Orchard Heritage Trail by the National Heritage Board (NHB) will be bringing to light stories of the lesser-known sides of Orchard for the community.
It is a self-guided trail which features 71 heritage sites that dot the Orchard area spanning from Dhoby Ghaut to Tanglin. The trail features 10 trail markers, which provide fascinating insights into Orchard Road’s history, and lesser known facts about the precinct.
Prior to its transformation into a bustling shopping district, the Orchard area was a valley flanked by the hills of Emerald and Cairnhill amongst others. It provided fertile land for plantations and orchards growing economic crops such as nutmeg and housed cemetery grounds to bury the departed.
As part of its research for the heritage trail, NHB gathered personal memories and photographs from former and current residents and regular visitors of the area.
An open call was conducted through Facebook, which attracted stories and memories from Singaporeans from all walks of life. These accounts reveal little-known stories of spaces, such as a fruit orchard that used to exist next to the Thai Embassy, the old wet market between Koek Road and Cuppage Road, and insights into the everyday lives of the Peranakan community on Emerald Hill from the mid-1990s.
"Through our latest trail, NHB hopes to showcase the Orchard area’s history and diversify its attractions by highlighting that Orchard is more than just a place where ‘you shop till you drop’," said Mr. Alvin Tan, Assistant Chief Executive (Policy & Community), NHB. "In doing so, we hope that locals and tourists alike will enjoy the ‘hidden stories’ of Orchard, explore its historical landmarks, and reacquaint themselves with the area’s often overlooked heritage gems.”