A Splendid Little Colony: British Singapore 1819 - 1963

Jinrickshaw Quarters

The crowded, frenetic and exciting “Jinrickshaw Quarters” in Chinatown, 1920. This colourful part of Singapore housed teeming numbers of Chinese labourers, crammed into the quarters above the streets. Rooms accommodating up to forty men were common. Observe the laundry hanging out to dry and the numerous “jinrickshaws,” two-wheeled passenger vehicles pulled by men, a very common means of transport for the middle-classes.

Source: Cheah Jin Seng. Singapore: 500 early postcards
There are countless such postcards taken of Chinatown. Dating from the 1920s to the 1940s, they have a constant, almost universal depiction of messy, chaotic roads strewn with wares, populated by nameless Chinese and where the windows of the low-rise residential quarters are bedecked with daily laundry. There seemed to be an ingrained disposition for photographers to capture such scenes; the government buildings and houses of the Europeans were, by contrast, always grandiose, white-washed and imbued with inherent gentility.

A Splendid Little Colony: British Singapore 1819 - 1963 | Singapore

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by Stephen