Cathay Building

Located at the convergence of Kirk Terrace, Handy Road and Sophia Road, the sixteen-storey Cathay Building (now known as The Cathay) was Singapore’s first skyscraper. It was owned by the Loke family and opened on 3 October 1939. It housed an air-conditioned 1,300-seat cinema, apartments, restaurant and hotel. When World War Two broke out in Singapore, the Cathay Building was turned into an air-raid shelter. During the Japanese occupation, it housed the Japanese Broadcasting Department, the Military Propaganda Department and the Military Information Bureau. When the Japanese surrendered and the British returned to Singapore in September 1945, it became Admiral Lord Louis Mountbatten headquarters (where the national flags of the Allies – Britain, United States of America, France, China and the Netherlands – were hoisted as shown in the photo). The building was only returned to Cathay in November 1946.