Beauty World Centre was named after the former shopping and leisure destination of the same name that was located across the road. The former Beauty World had its beginnings during the Japanese Occupation as the Tai Tong Ah Sai Kai amusement park. The name “Tai Tong Ah” means Greater East Asia in Cantonese and references Imperial Japan’s concept of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Back then, the main attraction at Tai Tong Ah was gambling, which was sanctioned by the Japanese authorities as a means of combating rampant inflation and forestalling potential resistance. There were also coffee shops with “coffee girls” that socialised with paying customers, stalls selling consumer goods, a photo studio, a Chinese medicine shop, wayang (“street theatre” in Malay) stages, and the Tiong Hwa cinema.
After the end of World War II and the return of British rule, gambling was once again made illegal in Singapore. In 1947, Tai Tong Ah was renamed Beauty World and included a market with stalls offering an array of goods under zinc and canvas roofs. By 1976, Beauty World had grown to include more than 160 market stalls, barber shops, a wet market and a Chinese temple.
By the early 1980s, Beauty World had been ravaged by fire on five occasions. The government eventually acquired the property in 1975, and the old Beauty World closed down in December 1983. The Beauty World Centre shopping mall was completed the following year to house shop owners and hawkers from the old market.