Did you know that the stretch of Bussorah Street near Masjid Sultan was once known as Kampong Kaji (Pilgrim Village) and the stretch nearer Beach Road was Kampong Tembaga (Copper Village)? Or that Arab Street was called Jawa Koi (Java Street) by the Chinese and pookadai sadakku by the Tamils? Sultan Gate was lined with blacksmiths and Baghdad Street with blacksmiths and traders. Where a car park now stands along Kandahar Street, there was the Pondok Java which housed Javanese migrants and was famed for the Javanese theatre and arts performances it used to host.
These are just some of the stories behind Kampong Glam’s streets and lanes. Steeped in history, culture and memories, Kampong Glam is one of Singapore’s most colourful districts. It was where the Malay royalty once resided, and where one of the most significant and important mosques in the country, Masjid Sultan, is located. It was where many diverse communities, such as the Javanese, Sumatrans, Baweanese, Banjarese, Arabs, Chinese and Indians once called home. Though Kampong Glam is no longer a residential area today, these communities have left their mark in different ways, from the buildings in the area and long-time businesses to vernacular place names.