From colonial rule, through the Second World War, to its establishment as a sovereign city-state, Singapore has seen an influx of immigrants from all over the world, some of whom have been vital to the country’s development. Of the roads that have been constructed, many were named after past land use, geological features, trees, and more commonly, outstanding individuals who have made a difference to our landscape or cultural history. Here are several toponyms named after prominent people who have made significant contributions to Singapore.
Yishun is the romanised Mandarin name of Lim Nee Soon, after whom this road was named. Nee Soon was a philanthropist, a rubber merchant, a pineapple horticulturalist, a banker, a contractor, and a general commission agent in Singapore. His illustrious career did not end there. He also founded The Chinese High School, became a Justice of Peace and served on the Rural Board from 1913 to 1921. Besides Nee Soon Road, Bah Soon Pah Road was also named after him.
In Lim Chu Kang lies Neo Tiew Road, a relatively secluded thoroughfare connecting Kranji Way and Lim Chu Kang Road. The road was named after Neo Ao Tiew, a businessman who worked with British and Arabic investors in 1914 to develop the 1900-acre Lim Chu Kang area. Besides houses and a seaport, he also built roads such as Lim Chu Kang Road in 1931. He subsequently became the founder of schools, a maternity hospital and Lim Chu Kang Village. During the war, he encouraged Chinese youths to join the British defence forces to protect the fort in Kranji. Today, the roads he constructed continue to provide accessibility to the northwestern farms and wetland reserve.
This street was named after George Drumgoole Coleman, Singapore’s first architect. Not only did he oversee public works and manage convict labourers, Coleman was also the first to survey the island’s topography and create map references in 1829, with which he provided geographical advice to Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore. Coleman’s architectural legacy remains today, with his buildings Armenian Church and Caldwell House at CHIJMES still standing majestically in the vicinity of the street named after him.
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