Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Is There A Katong District?

On National Day 9 August 2013, The Straits Times published a special section called Secret Journeys Singapore, National Day Special 2013. There were more than 10 interesting articles.  I could relate with one of them very well. The story 'The Past is Still Present' by Serene Goh.

She took a trip down memory lane at Katong. She talked about  Katong Odeon Shopping Centre, Chin Mee Chin Confectionery and the old eateries where there were zi char and tau kwa pow stalls. She was yearning for the old Katong and she reminisce the family raised terrace house at Onan Road and the St Hilda's Girls' School at Ceylon Road.

I enjoyed reading her article for it evoked memories of yester years. In the old days hawkers came to your house. Now you go to them at coffee shops or food courts. At that time all zi char hawkers used opeh (palm leaves) to tah pow (wrapped) their take away orders. The best tau kwa pow was not at Joo Chiat Road/ East Coast Road junction coffee shop but at a coffee shop opposite Joo Chiat Market.  The author's family house at Onan Road and my house at Joo Chiat Road were at opposite ends of an unnamed lane. I had a few friends living at Onan Road raised terraced houses. One used the premises as a dwelling cum temple. The other, a butcher sometimes kept his caged pigs under the floor boards.

In the article she also talked about Katong District and said it was loosely bound by Changi Road and Geylang Serai, Marine Parade towards the south, Tanjong Katong in the west, Still Road in the east.


Katong is normally referred to by words of mouth for areas on both sides of East Coast Road. There is no Katong Road on the map or street directory. How come there is a Katong District? Katong encroached into Joo Chiat from Tanjong Katong in 1928 (ref: Singapore House by Lee Kip Lin). According to an old Katong resident Foo Kee Seng, Katong had extended to Telok Kurau Road (NAS Oral Hisitory recording 1998). Katong has moved eastwards towards Siglap but never northwards to Changi Road and Geylang Serai.

 The loosely bound area in the article is actually Joo Chiat District but its eastern boundary is Telok Kuara Road and not Still Road. (ST 8 Oct 1948)

Incidently ST 23 June 2013 published an article "Changing face of Joo Chiat" by Walter Sim and Lim Min Zhang. They said "Joo Chiat estate, loosely bordered by Still Road to the east, Changi Road to the north, Haig Road to the west, and East Coast Road to the south, .............."

Joo Chiat District  
ST 23 June 2013 

Katong District
ST 9 August 2013

The above two areas refer to the same place according to their loosely bound borders. Both articles are from the Straits Times but each gave a different district name. It should be interesting if the newspapers can offer an answer.