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Pagoda Street, Chinatown, Singapore

Pagoda Street (Chinese: 宝塔街; bǎo tǎ jiē) is a street located in Chinatown within the Outram Planning Area in Singapore. The road links New Bridge Road and South Bridge Road, but has since been converted to a pedestrian mall to Chinatown MRT Station at its New Bridge Road end.

The Chinatown Heritage Centre, located on Pagoda Street, provides an overview of the life of early Chinese settlers in Chinatown.

Etymology and history[]

Pagoda Street was named after the pagoda-like gopuram of Sri Mariamman Temple, the largest and oldest Hindu temple in Singapore, located on the South Bridge Road end of the street. This temple was originally built in 1827 of attap and wood. The present structure was erected in 1843 and has been altered and renovated several times since.

In the early days, Pagoda Street was known for its opium smoking dens. This street was probably one of the stations of the coolie trade between the 1850s and the 1880s. One well-known firm for the coolie trade here was Kwong Hup Yuen, previously Kian Seng Heng Bicycle Trader of 37 Pagoda Street but now a clothes shop, hence the Cantonese refer to this street as kwong hup yuan kai. By the turn of the twentieth century, many shophouses along the street became coolie lodging places. In 1901, for example, there were 12 coolie lodging houses located here.

By the 1950s, the shophouses here were mainly involved in retail trade and services. The architecture of the shophouses on Pagoda Street and other parts of Chinatown originates from the Raffles Town Plan of 1822, which stipulated the material that should be used to build the shophouses as well as the need to have covered walkways of five-foot width (hence known as "five-foot ways").

The area later became well known for textile and tailor shops. The street is now part of the Chinatown Historic District gazetted for conservation.

The street is known as kit ling a le pai au in Hokkien, meaning "behind the kling place of worship". Kling is a reference to Indian.


  • Victor R Savage, Brenda S A Yeoh (2004), Toponymics - A Study of Singapore Street Names, Eastern University Press, Template:ISBN
  • National Heritage Board (2006), Discover Singapore - Heritage Trails, Template:ISBN