Formerly a mangrove swamp, with plantations, farms and crocodile-infested rivers, Jurong has now been transformed not just into a booming industrial area, but also a bustling shopping and lifestyle district as well.
Jurong is, after all, touted as the “new town” of Singapore. However, do you know much about the history of Jurong?
Here are a few things about Jurong’s history you probably didn’t know about.
1. The history of the name “Jurong” is… swampy.
It has three possible sources. “Jerung” (shark), “jurang” (gorge/gap), or “perjure” (corner), all from the Malay language.
2. Road names
At first, the roads around the Taman Jurong area were given plain ol’ numbers, such as Taman Jurong 1, 2, 3, 4, till 12.
Later in 1970, the Street Naming Committee decided to give the roads new names. Taman Jurong 1 became Corporation Road. Taman Jurong 2 became Yuan Ching (园景, meaning “garden scenery”), and so on.
3. Road names, Multi-Racial Edition
All four official languages of Singapore (English, Chinese, Malay, Tamil) were used in naming the roads in order to also reflect a multiracial and multilingual society.
For example, Jalan Tukang (“craftsman” in Malay) and Neythal Road (“to weave as clothes” in Tamil).
Fittingly, Singapore Textile Industrial Limited used to be located along Neythal Road.
4. Shine bright like a diamond
There is a group of 4 21-storey HDB blocks in the Taman Jurong area, arranged in a diamond shape.
They used to stand out not just for their shape, but also for their height. At 21 floors in the 1970s, it stood out in an area of low-rise houses.
5. Traffic jams like no other
When Nantah (now the Nanyang Technological University) first opened in 1956, there were bad jams along the entire two-lane Jurong Road, where cars on each lane could hardly squeeze past each other.
This was before Jurong went under further development in the 1960s.
6. During World War II
Apparently, a spy and guerrilla training camp was located in Jurong, and the Japanese attempted to build a submarine base here.
7. The forgotten railway
The Jurong railway line was built with the intention of becoming an essential transport link to transport finished goods out of the industrial area into the bustling Peninsula market.
It was left abandoned after more effective networks (via road) were developed.
You can still find some of its ruins (train tracks, rusted “Whistle” signs”) around the industrial Jurong area.
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