10 years ago, it was the year 2007. And the 90’s were 20 whole years ago. Does anyone else feel old?
From the 1990s to the current day, Singapore has gone through a tremendous change. Take a trip down memory lane with us through these 20 pictures of 1990s Singapore. You’ll be surprised at how different Singapore is now compared to your childhood days.
1. Capitol Theatre
This 87-year-old landmark was first built in 1930, and could seat more than 1600 people in the auditorium.
By 1998, it screened its last movie and closed down, unable to compete with newer, more technologically advanced cinemas around Singapore. After 9 years, it was reopened again on May 19 2015. Now, there are movies as well as in-house theatre and dance productions featuring local and Asian repertoire.
2. Marina Bay Sands
The area where Marina Bay Sands now stands was initially just a huge reclaimed land.
With plans that have been in the works since 1983, the entire Marina Bay Sands project took 34 years to become the impressive integrated resort we know today.
With the completion of the Sands Theatre and Grand Theatre, we are now treated to globally renowned acts like The Lion King and Wicked. Coupled with the ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands has become THE place to be for everything cool, from arts and culture to shopping and eating!
3. National Library at Stamford Road
The original National Library of Singapore at Stamford Road was first completed in 1960, and for many of us, the place where our love for reading began.
On 31 March 2004, our collective hearts broke as the doors of the library closed for the last time. While we may miss the old library, the new national library is a sight to behold. Home to the Black Box, an outdoor garden and 7 full floors dedicated to the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library, the new National Library at Bras Basah helps to keeps our love for reading alive.
4. Bugis Street
Our very own Singapore-style version Taiwan Night Market, Bugis Street was where we flocked to for cheap clothes and apparels after school.
With our miniscule pocket money, Bugis Street was a godsend for the blossoming shopaholics in us. Cleaner, more fashionable and slightly pricier, new Bugis Street now hosts even more shops, some are even air-conditioned!
Back in the 90’s, going to the playground meant playing with kids from the neighbourhood, porcelain tiled dragon architecture, as well as bloody knees if we had the misfortune of falling in the sand.
These days, playgrounds are more avant-garde in design, with safe rubber-foam flooring. There is also a growing trend in inclusiveness, starting with playgrounds for children with special needs and special wheelchair swings.
Decked in the iconic red and white colours of our nation, the buses of the past were stuffy, non-air conditioned, and dispensed paper tickets when you boarded the bus.
20 years down the road, we now see buses in different colours. Not just that, they’re also air-conditioned, wheelchair accessible and bus fares are now payable with cards.
7. National Stadium
The old Kallang Stadium was THE place to be for every primary 5 child a few days before National Day. Wearing red or white t-shirts to school, we were proud to wave our miniature national flags (all while digging through the goody bags for the yearly signature gifts).
On 30 June 2014, Singapore welcomed the new and improved National Stadium. An all-weather sports and events venue, it has a retractable roof that keeps out the rain and doubles as a huge projector screen. It even has a state-of-the-art cooling system, allowing for cool air at 23 degrees to be pumped out from beneath the seats. Partially powered by solar panels, the cool air is even environmentally friendly!
Having played host to singers like Stefanie Sun and Jay Chou, as well as the 28th SEA Games in 2015, the National Stadium provides a comfortable, yet magnificent stage for arts, culture and sports alike.
Do you remember having to take a ferry to Sentosa island? Back then, we were easily excited by the wax museum depicting Singapore’s past, as well as climbing up the huge Merlion statue.
Fast-forward 20 years and Sentosa island is now home to a huge amusement-resort. You’ll be surprised to know that this island is no longer just for the beach lovers and thrill seekers.
Theatre geeks and concertgoers can enjoy amazing performances like Yellowcard – The Final World Tour at Resorts World Theatre, and the daily Monster Rock show at Pantages Hollywood Theatre at Universal Studios Singapore.
Back then, there were only 2 lines: Red and Green. More accurately, the North-South line and the East-West line. After that, you had to take a bus to get to your specific destination.
These days, there are 5 MRT lines with 2 more on the way, and 3 LRT lines. In the past, we didn’t need to refer to the System map when travelling somewhere new. Now, I find myself googling ‘MRT map’ very often.
10. Hard Rock Cafe
The ever-famous Cadillac was taken down on May 16 2016 in preparation for a makeover of the Hard Rock Cafe. The 1961 Cadillac Series 62 Deville represented the Rock and Roll times that Hard Rock Cafe stood for.
Fortunately, Hard Rock Cafe is still rocking even without its signature Cadillac. With Kumar taking the stage alongside live music performances and open mic shows, Hard Rock Cafe keeps our love for music and comedy alive.
11. King Albert Park
Students of Bukit Timah, namely MGS, ACS, Nanyang Girls’, NJC and many others will always have fond memories of King Albert Park (affectionately known as KAP). Many after school hours were spent studying in McDonald’s, shopping at Cold Storage, and eating ice cream at Island Creamery.
Closed on 16 March 2014 for its transformation into a condominium, this is yet another childhood memory that we say goodbye to in our ever-developing Singapore.
12. Big Splash Complex at East Coast Park
Before Wild Wild Wet or Adventure Cove, there was the Big Splash! Slides which were more than 6 storeys high. They were supposedly the tallest slides in the world back in 1977.
After 40 years of bringing water-related thrills to Singaporeans, the water park closed on 21 October 2016, and the land was returned to the government for redevelopment.
13. Marine Aquarium at Wisma Atria
A cheap alternative to Underwater world was to take a trip to Wisma Atria and stare at the fishes in the Marine Aquarium. Filled with exotic seawater fishes, corals and even tiny sharks, we would chase the swimming fishes round and round the 1.5m tall tank.
Sadly, good things don’t last forever. The Marine Aquarium was taken down in 2008 and the aquatic creatures were transferred to their new home at Underwater World Singapore.
14. Tang Dynasty Village
Opened in 1992, Tang Dynasty Village was a literal blast to the past where visitors could visit a replica of the Tang Dynasty Capital in Singapore.
Featuring an army of terracotta warriors, a courthouse, geisha house, camel rides and a wax museum among other displays, this attraction was totally cool but did not come cheap. Back then, $30 entrance fees were not affordable for some families.
Coupled with the 90’s Asian Economic Crisis, it closed down in 1999, after a short 7-year run.
15. Escape Theme Park
Who can forget travelling all the way to Pasir Ris to race in go-carts, splash down the Wet & Wild log-ride and be tossed about the insanely fast Panasonic/Alpha 8.
On November 26, 2011, we said goodbye to Escape Theme Park as plans for the Downtown East revamp began. Wild Wild Wet was opened next door shortly after the closure, but it just wasn’t the same.
16. Queenstown Cinema
A cinema right beside a bowling alley, not to mention a KTV outlet, this was the best after school/work hang out for Queenstown residents.
I remember coming here after dinner with my cousins to bowl, even though we mostly watched the balls enter the gutters. Closed in 1999 and demolished in 2011, the rubble may be gone but the memories remain.
17. Istana Kampong Gelam (now Malay Heritage Centre)
In 1999, after the Sultan Hussein Ordinance was enacted and revised for the last time, residents living in the Istana were resettled. In time, the building was restored and transformed into the Malay Heritage Centre in 2004.
With 6 permanent galleries showcasing stories and artefacts that tell of Kampong Gelam’s historical significance, as well as new monthly exhibits, visitors are given a precious insight into our country’s culture and history.
18. HMV at Heeren
Home to the first and last HMV store in Singapore, teens would flock here to listen to the latest album releases for free.
Opened in 1997, the 25,000-sqf store saw 8 years of music lovers pass through its 3 levels before closing officially on 30 September 2015.
19. Underwater World Singapore
The fishes from Wisma Atria’s Marine Aquarium found their way here and lived happily until 26 June 2016 when Underwater World Singapore closed down.
While the ‘bigger and better’ version, namely S.E.A Aquarium, held a whopping 100,000 plus marine animals of over 800 species, Underwater World’s 2,500 plus marine animals of 250 species was more than enough for our childhood.
These days, ask most teens if they know A&W and they’ll answer that it’s a carbonated root beer beverage. Back in the 90’s, it was a fast food restaurant on a boat! Stationed on the Stewards Riverboat at the Sentosa Coastline, it was the only fast food franchise that felt classy as you chow down on burgers, fries and an A&W Root Beer Float.
These 20 pictures show us the immense change that Singapore has undergone since the 90’s, and with the ever-increasing development of our country, who knows whether our favourite places will stick around in 2037?
Make as many memories as possible by visiting and attending events, attractions, and activities in Singapore. So start visiting and get your cameras clicking away, before time takes away more of our monumental places in Singapore.
(Header image credit: straitstimes.com)