Ngee Ann City is sited on the location of a former Teochew cemetery, Tai Shan Ting. When Lien Ying Chow, the founder of Overseas Union Bank (OUB), became Chairman of the Ngee Ann Kongsi in 1953, he sought to develop the land owned by the organisation at Orchard Road to raise funds for its charitable and educational activities.
To make way for this development, the Ngee Ann Kongsi began exhuming the Tai Shan Ting cemetery from the early 1950s. The exhumed remains from the cemetery were later interred at the Teochew Memorial Park at Yishun.
The first building to be completed on the site of the former cemetery was Ngee Ann Building, which opened in 1957. This 10-storey building housed apartments and shops. In 1963, the land next to Ngee Ann Building was leased to an Indonesian company, which built Wisma Indonesia. The funds from the rental enabled the Ngee Ann Kongsi to set up Ngee Ann College (now Ngee Ann Polytechnic) in the same year.
Ngee Ann Building was torn down in 1985 and the area redeveloped into Ngee Ann City, which opened in 1993. The revenue from Ngee Ann City continues to allow Ngee Ann Kongsi to fund its educational and charitable projects.