Singapore

In the 1970s, land reclamation was carried out at Marina Bay, forming a freshwater bay. In the reclamation process, some roads were removed from the map by reclaiming land and the Singapore River's mouth was directed into the bay instead of directly into the sea.

This story was created for the Google Expeditions project by ePublishing Partners, now available on Google Arts & Culture

In 2008, Marina Barrage was built, converting the basin into a new downtown freshwater Marina Reservoir, providing water supply, flood control and a new lifestyle attraction.

Singapore Marina Bay

Singapore’s Marina Bay area was reclaimed from the sea in the 1970s. Located right next to the thriving downtown core of the central business district, it includes the bay itself as well as the land surrounding it. The rebuilt area provides for more development and growth and serves as a waterfront hub.

Skyline

Singapore’s riveting skyline is in clear view from where you stand. Although Marina Bay is filled with high rises and high-density buildings, which make effective use of scarce land, the area is not short on interesting that the buildings had a variety of heights and uses. 

For instance, the buildings along the waterfront have lower heights, and the taller buildings in Marina Bay are placed to enhance their views of the water and to create open spaces. Imagine what the bay looks like at night with thousands of lights sparkling!

Clifford Pier

The red-roofed building on the waterfront is Clifford Pier. Sitting at the mouth of the Singapore River, it was built between 1927 and 1933. In decades past the pier bustled with sea-going traffic, both local travelers on their way to neighboring islands and arriving immigrants.

Starting in the 1970s, the pier underwent extensive transformation, with spaces for offices, stores, and restaurants added. All sea traffic was redirected to Marina South Pier in 2006, and Clifford Pier has hosted commercial businesses ever since.  

If you look to the left of the pier, you can see a white watch tower. This is the Customs House. It was built in the 1960s to allow the customs police to keep watch over the water."

Marina Promontory

The flat outcropping of land you see to the left of the pier is the Marina Promontory. It is used for public events and as a public gathering space. In the past, the Marina Bay New Year’s Eve countdowns have been held here as well as charity races.

Green Space

Marina Bay was planned to give greenery a prominent role. Not only are the pedestrian spaces lined with trees, there are numerous parks and open spaces, like the once you see to your left. 

The pipe-like structures at the tree line are actually steel tubes that stretch for 300 meters along the Waterfront Promenade. Not only do they provide cooling clouds of mist when it gets hot, they also create a light-and-sound experience for strollers. 

Study the directory behind you. The large swath of green just a short walk away is the Gardens of the Bay, which features more than 250,000 rare plants and vertical gardens stretching up 16 stories tall.

Singapore Marina Bay

The Singapore River once emptied directly into the sea, but Marina Bay created a new body of water adjacent to the ocean. 

As the desire to clean up the Singapore River grew along with a need for freshwater, officials ordered the construction of a dam between these two bodies of water. So in 2008, with the completion of the Marina Barrage, Marina Bay became a freshwater reservoir.

Downtown

The Esplanade Bridge to your right links Marina Bay to the downtown area, which is the hub of Singapore’s economic activity. 

Back to 1822, Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, created a town plan designating a section of the town next to the Singapore River as the business district. The bridge spans the river, which empties into the bay in front of you.

Promenade

Look to your right and your left. You are standing on the Waterfront Promenade, which circles the entire bay. 

If you walk away from the bridge, you’ll pass a building known as the Float, which has hosted New Year’s Eve events and parades, and the Youth Olympic Park, which honors the inaugural 2010 Summer Youth Olympics. 

Keep going—the Waterfront Promenade is 3.5 kilometers long—and you’ll arrive at the Helix Bridge, which takes its name and design from the double helix structure of DNA.

Marina Bay Sands

The visually stunning three-tower building you see across the bay on your left is actually a hotel/casino/shopping complex, also known as an integrated resort. 

The hotel has more than 2,500 rooms and over 1 million square feet in convention/exhibition space. The 800,000-square-foot mall includes a museum, theatres, restaurants, an ice skating rink, and an enormous casino.

Each tower stands 55 stories high, and the “bridge” you see connecting the buildings is actually a terrace deck large enough to hold 4,000 people. The distinctive curved white structure by the waterfront is the lotus flower–shaped ArtScience Museum.

Singapore Quarry

The Singapore Quarry sits at the southwestern end of the Dairy Farm Nature Park in the Hillview region of Singapore.

The entire park covers about 63 hectares (about 155 acres) and includes an environmental education center as well as nature trails and bike trails that lead to the former granite quarry.

The Wetlands

From the 1940s to about 1990, a granite quarry operated where you stand now. When the quarry closed, it was flooded, creating a shallow body of water and this special wetland habitat.

From the viewing platform, you can see plants and animals typical of Singapore’s freshwater areas. You might spot the little grebe, an endangered bird, or catch a glimpse of rare dragonflies. Naturalists also have attempted to reintroduce native plant species such as orchids to the ecosystem.

Granite Quarry

Look across the water. You can see the hillside slopes that once were part of the quarry. The area had three distinct granite quarrying sites—Singapore Quarry, Hindhede Quarry, and Bukit Timah Quarry. 

The rock underlying the ground around here is granite with a high quartz content, which made it commercially valuable. However, all the mining led to erosion and had a negative impact on the surrounding ecology, including the vegetation and soil.

Talk of closing the quarry began as early as the 1950s, but the quarries were not closed until about 1990. While Singapore Quarry was turned into a wetlands area, Hindhede and Bukit Timah were filled in and transformed into nature reserves.

Singapore Botanic Gardens

In 1822 Sir Stamford Raffles, Singapore’s founder, created the first Botanic Gardens, primarily to grow crops for economic uses. The gardens closed after a short time, but a new ornamental garden was developed at the site in 1859.

As the years went by, that garden grew and transformed to become the Singapore Botanic Gardens. Today it is one of the most visited botanic gardens in the world as well as a world heritage site.

The garden is divided into 3 core zones: the Tanglin zone, which conveys the charms of the old ornamental garden; the Central zone, which is the most visited area and home to the National Orchid Garden; and Bukit Timah, which provides opportunities for education and discovery.

National Orchid Garden

You are just steps away from the National Orchid Garden. Programs to breed orchids commenced in 1928, but not until 1995 did this special garden within a garden open. 

In a place of prominence on the highest hill in the Botanic Gardens, the Orchid garden is arranged in four zones organized around the seasons and the colors and tones associated with them.

Today, the garden boasts more than 1,000 species of orchids and 2,000 hybrids, although they may not all be displayed at the same time.

Trails

Stop and look around you. It’s hard to believe you are just a short distance from the bustling heart of Singapore and one of its busiest shopping streets! Where will you go next? You have a number of choices.

Take time to read the tags to learn more about the beautiful flowers here, or simply relax in one of the shelters like the one you see behind you, and enjoy the surrounding tranquility.

While the National Orchid Garden trail—which takes the average visitor 30–45 minutes to cover—bedazzles many visitors with its color and vibrancy, you can also follow the rain forest trail, the ginger garden trail, the evolution garden grail, or any of several heritage trails.

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