Night-time view of the Jurong Town public housing estate

In the early 1960s, Jurong was largely a swampy and forested area where gambier and rubber plantations were once common. Dr. Goh Keng Swee, then Minister for Finance, decided to develop the area into an industrial estate where foreign investors could establish their factories. Jurong was chosen for its large tracts of available state land, its deep coastal waters that were suitable for establishing a port, and its proximity to the main port of Singapore. The prohibitive costs involved in building the necessary infrastructure for the area resulted in the project being nicknamed ‘Goh’s Folly’. Reclamation works to fill in the swamplands and the Jurong River began in 1962 using soil extracted from nearby hills. In 1968, the Jurong Town Corporation (JTC) was created as a statutory board to develop and manage the Jurong Industrial Estate. JTC also built flats in the area to accommodate the factory workers and constructed recreational facilities such as the Jurong BirdPark and the Chinese Garden. By the 1970s, Jurong had been successfully transformed into Singapore’s industrial heartland.