Clarke Quay sits on a historical commercial site that dates back to the 19th century. Boldly restored and refurbished into five beautiful waterfront godowns under a climate-controlled canopy with coloured lighting, it now boasts a dizzying array of over 60 distinctive F&B, entertainment, retail and lifestyle outlets.
We made a visit during the Singapore River Festival 2009. This is it’s second year, from June 19-June 27, with exciting lifestyle and entertainment events on and along the river. From Boat Quay and Empress Place to Clarke Quay and Robertson Quay, the whole river comes alive with free events and activities.
We also took a stroll to the field next to Clarke Quay to find people flying lighted remote control kites. the acrobatics were quite amazing and seeing them weaving in and around each other was a lot of fun. Here’s a video – turn up the volume so that you can see them in action with an upbeat musical accompaniment or see it in full screen for more detail :)
The History of Clarke Quay
Sir Stamford Raffles landed in Clarke Quay on the 6th of February 1819. He is supposed to have landed where his statue is located today. In mid-1819, on his second trip to Singapore, Raffles reserved the north bank of the river for the government use and the site for warehouses and gowdowns.
He realised on the next trip between 1820 and 1823 that it was not permitted to build anything there and he altered his original plan to the area of present-day Clarke Quay.
Raffles soon signed a territorial treaty with the local Malay leaders and established his trading entrepot. Within a few years, he laid out city plans and ordered land reclamation projects that created a series of five quays, and one of them was Clarke Quay.
Clarke Quay was landfilled, and auctioned off and developed by Europeans and Chinese entrepreneurs. The mix of houses, godowns, and establishments, mostly built of brick and plaster, presented and eye-catching sight. Especially the crescent formed by the long range of gowdowns. The crescent was named Clarke Quay after Sir Andrew Clarke, governor of the Straits Settlement from 1873-1875. He was also well-known for signing the treaty of acquisition of Perak and Selangor states in Malaysia. The Singapore River was the heart of the town, and up to the 1840’s all shipping took place at its mouth and along the crescent of Clarke Quay. Merchants had their offices and gowdowns either at Clarke or Boat Quay, or commercial square.