Chinatown Heritage Center | Reminisce and Revive The Old Times

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With the merging venture of the Singapore Tourism Board and the National Heritage Board arise the capsule of time history teeming rich with inheritance of Chinese culture. This hall is a compilation of different kinds of Chinese ways of life specially encased in a cubicle that makes the early Chinese living come to life. It is situated in three newly restored shophouses along the busy street of Pagoda where the ChinatownHeritageCenter caters a wealth of recollections and myriad stories from the earlier period.

Each category level of the gallery paves its way to a different era in the history of Chinese culture and living that lets you to mark out the lives of these first settlers. Know more about the abundant way of living of the early inhabitants and get a feel on how they were living one day at a time.

The Chinese’s way of living in the early times in Singapore was plain and almost everybody resided in cubicles, which were always congested and prone to diseases. Their stiff way of living resulted in many of them engaging in evil vices such as: prostitution, opium smoking, gambling and secret societies. But with regard to the merriment of life, Chinatown was always in packed with festivities and activities.

Life in the early years was simple and not too complicated. Though they lived in rented and crowded cubicles, they were somehow comfortable with the way these cubicles were nested and constructed. The first floor of the shophouses was primarily used for business and trade and as sleeping quarters during the night.

The second and third floors were divided into several cubicles to share a common bathroom and cooking place. The over all appearance of the center was renovated based on the formal recollections of the previous settlers. As for the exhibits in the gallery, they were almost original in the sense that they reflected the true personal way of living in Chinatown.

Level 1: Retail Shop

Located in the first floor, this conventional retail outlet and coffee shop lets you feel on how it is like to witness the trading and business making of the people in the mid 1900s. They are manifested through the main attraction of furniture and fixture like the antique sewing machine and the hand-sewn quilted blankets.

Level 1: Kopitiam

If you want to hang out while sipping a cup of aromatic coffee, you can do so Chinese style at Kopitiam. The idea transcends through the elegant but vintage type tables and chairs embarked in the coffee shop. With freshly brewed cappuccinos as their specialties, enjoy chilling out with a different twist where the West meets the East.

Level 2                                                                                            

During the mid-1990s, unsympathetic conditions in China caused the migrant people to settle in Singapore. And this can be seen on the next level of the Heritage center where it showcases the lives of the early migrants in Singapore. This is considered to be a tough one for the Chinese people, reflected on the dark setting of each cubicle in the gallery. It truly reminds us of the sufferings of the early Chinese settlers in Singapore. 

The not-so-easy lives of the immigrants resulted with several of them finding solace in the four evils: opium, prostitution, gambling and secret societies. This colonnade features the four vices that Chinatown settlers fall victims of. Here you will prospect upon the consequences of a clash in a gambling hideaway and grasp a quick look of a prostitute preparing herself for the hours of darkness.

Level 3

Reminiscing the “Golden Years” of Chinatown, the exhibits that are showcased in the third level have paved a way for the colorful and festive life in the mid 1900s, much in difference compared from the second level.

The bread and butter of the migrant settlers in Singapore, this gallery feature the vibrancy of the Chinese people back in the day. Cherish the day and night markets as the street stalls were recreated at old Chinatown.