FLASHBACK

DestinAsian - - DEPARTMENTS - —James Louie

Sin­ga­pore, 1968.

Con­ceived amid the cen­ten­nial cel­e­bra­tions of colo­nial-era Sin­ga­pore, the Fuller­ton Build­ing opened in 1928, flaunt­ing Bri­tish im­pe­ri­al­ist con­fi­dence in grand neo­clas­si­cal style with fluted Doric colon­nades and high-ceilinged veran­das. It was the new home of the Gen­eral Post Of­fice and a slew of gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, while the up­per sto­ries housed the ex­clu­sive Sin­ga­pore Club—a play­ground for the rul­ing elite and the hide­out of Gov­er­nor Sir Shen­ton Thomas dur­ing the Ja­panese in­va­sion in World War II. In this photo, taken just three years after in­de­pen­dence when the city-state was in the nascent stages of its mirac­u­lous trans­for­ma­tion, the struc­ture re­mains an im­pos­ing pres­ence on the Sin­ga­pore sky­line. But change—as evinced by the pub­lic hous­ing es­tates in the far back­ground—was al­ready afoot. By the time the Gen­eral Post Of­fice moved out in 1996 to make way for the build­ing’s con­ver­sion into The Fuller­ton Hotel, the bum­boats had all but dis­ap­peared from the neigh­bor­ing Sin­ga­pore River and recla­ma­tion had turned the off­shore waters into a large tract of land ripe for de­vel­op­ment. Now a de­clared Na­tional Mon­u­ment, the 90-year-old land­mark is the proud fo­cus of a her­itage precinct on Ma­rina Bay.

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