Published on Monday, 05 August 2019 12:00
Written by Saigoneer.
There used to be a time when the sights and people of Saigon and Singapore didn’t look too dissimilar.
This compilation of photos taken in Singapore in the 1960s was compiled by Redsvn, showing a national island that was as orderly and glamorous and it’s known today. Still, in the shots exist corners that are less polished and cluttered, but are charming because of that urban chaos.
Of the images, the most famous are perhaps those by David Ayres, who did two rounds in the Royal Navy and was stationed in the Naval Base in 1963–1964 and 1966–1967. The regal cleanliness of Raffles Place was perfectly preserved in the shot above. Just like 1960s Saigon, rickshaws, vintage cars and casual cyclists filled local streets while residents took strolls in crisp white shirts and pants. Rows of shop houses in Chinatown adorned with colorful block letters could pass for scenes in Saigon’s own Cho Lon neighborhoods.
Somewhere along the line, the two cities’ street culture diverged. Singapore continued growing vertically at a rapid rate, peppering main thoroughfares with international-style high-rises. Quaint streets and canals were replaced by wide expressways while sleek infrastructure significantly improves quality of life. Vestiges of these 60s scenes are now only found in a few streets in Chinatown, Joo Chiat or Emerald Hill.
Saigon is also being invaded by skyscrapers, especially in the last decade, but it’s also content with the messier, grittier side of street life. In between glass towers, clusters of vendors and hawkers provide a common ground for people from all walks of life to grab some grub.
Visit a retro side of Singapore through the photos below:[Photos via Redsvn]
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