A night-time view of the New World Amusement Park

Opened in 1923 at Jalan Besar by Peranakan brothers Ong Boon Tat and Ong Peng Hock, the New World Amusement Park was the first of the three ‘worlds’ to be established (the others being Great World and Happy/Gay World). These night-time entertainment venues offered a wide variety of activities for the whole family, from vaudeville-style shows performed by Chinese travelling troupes, to boxing matches, circus performances, open-air film screenings and racy cabaret acts. New World, in particular, was famous for having performers with flamboyant personas such as ‘Queen of Striptease’ Rose Chan, wrestler King Kong, strongman Mat Tarzan, and boxer Felix Boy. New World’s Bunga Tanjong dance hall was especially popular with Malay men, who flocked there in droves to enjoy the company of the hall’s dancing girls. The 1920s to the late 1950s were the heyday of these amusement parks, with their popularity fading by the 1960s. New World was closed down in the mid 1980s and the site it stood on was sold off by then owners Shaw Organisation to City Developments for redevelopment into the City Square Residences condominium.