Ang Mo Kio derived its namesake from a bridge built in Thomson Road by J.T. Thomson, the former government surveyor of Singapore. It means ‘large and prosperous bridge’ in Chinese. The history of Ang Mo Kio started with its villagers rearing farm animals, growing fruits and vegetables, running small-scale businesses and doing menial work. In the recent years, it has developed into a housing estate with spacious units, sufficient parking space and outdoor leisure areas. Only the well-heeled Singaporeans are able to afford the private housing here but there are also a number of high-rise apartments and HDB units. The Ang Mo Kio Town Centre, which is part of the Ang Mo Kio Planning Area, is undergoing a facelift, to provide better facilities in the future.
In the Central Region of Singapore is a small neighborhood named Bishan, measuring just three by three kilometers. Like its neighboring housing estates, Ang Mo Kio and Thomson, the homes here are dearer than other estates. Bishan or Bi Shang Ting is derived from the Cantonese word for large burial ground. In the past, there was a burial ground in the area and it has since been excavated to make way for residential development. The main concern for this development was that this town will not be successful because of the burial ground but conversely, it became popular with the residents because of its central location. Bishan was previously known as Kampong San Theng and Soon Hock Village, occupied by two different dialect communities. Kampong San Theng was set up by members of three prefectures from Canton, China, while Soon Hock Village was occupied by the Hokkiens and was well known for its sesame oil and noodles. Today, the residential area is a high-cost housing area consisting of 19,000 flats.
Lying on the fringes of the city centre is Thomson, a mixture of housing area, hotels and shopping centres. The prices of everything here is high but comparatively lower than Orchard Road. Named after John Turnbull Thomson, Singapore’s first government surveyor, Thomson includes Kallang Bridge, a portion of St Andrew’s Cathedral and the waterworks for town supply. Upscale condominiums in this district include The Compass at Chancery and Espana. Here, most of the housing estates consist of condominiums, serviced apartments and landed property.
The new Ang Mo Kio Hub has attracted a lot of visitors to the area. It is a multi-level shopping centre and car park with alink to the Ang Mo Kio MRT Station and Ang Mo Kio Bus Interchange. The NTUC FairPrice Xtra Hypermarket is the anchor supermarket in AMK Hub.
In Bishan, Junction 8 is the main neighborhood mall that caters to the residents’ shopping needs. There are a number of coffee shops in the vicinity too.
A premier Christian school, the Sanyu Adventist School caters to primary and secondary education in Thomson. United Square, Goldhill Plaza and Goldhill Centre are the notable shopping centres in the area. Offices include the Revenue House, which houses the Singapore Government’s tax authority.