Orchard Road had its humble origins as an unnamed country road lined with fruit orchards, nutmeg plantations, and pepper farms in the early 1830s. By the 1850s, the plantations began to make way for residential development, and the street was soon home to Jewish and Buddhist cemeteries, Hindu temples, outdoor hawker centres, wet markets, and even an open-air laundry basin.
The first signs of retail transformation came only in 1903 with the establishment of Singapore’s very first Cold Storage supermarket, on the site now occupied by The Centrepoint. Orchard Road’s first department store was set up by a local merchant, C. K. Tang, in 1958 on an isolated plot of land facing a cemetery. When the old C. K. Tang building was demolished in 1982, it was replaced by the high-rise Tang Plaza which houses both the department store TANGS as well as the current Singapore Marriott Hotel. The green, curving roof still marks the location of the original department store, today known simply as TANGS.
By the 1970s, Orchard Road had replaced High Street as the city’s main shopping street, and the introduction of cinemas and a bowling alley during the ’60s and ’70s heralded the area as a main entertainment hub. The first multi-storey shopping mall, Plaza Singapura, was built in 1974 on the site where it still stands today. Bigger and better malls and complexes soon followed, creating an eclectic streetscape with no parallel in the world.
Today, Orchard Road has been transformed into a magnet for residents, tourists and workers alike, with over 5,000 retail, dining and entertainment establishments offering the ultimate lifestyle experience.