SLA portal maps past and present

The 1966 and present-day maps of the Newton and Novena areas show how these neighbourhoods have developed and what happened to old landmarks.
The 1966 and present-day maps of the Newton and Novena areas show how these neighbourhoods have developed and what happened to old landmarks.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE LAND AUTHORITY
The 1966 and present-day maps of the Newton and Novena areas show how these neighbourhoods have developed and what happened to old landmarks.
The 1966 and present-day maps of the Newton and Novena areas show how these neighbourhoods have developed and what happened to old landmarks.PHOTOS: SINGAPORE LAND AUTHORITY

It shows how the country has changed by contrasting old and new streetscapes

A Malay school and the Pasiran Mosque stood on a hill near Thomson Road in the 1960s and 1970s.

By the 1980s, Catholic High School had taken over their place. The following decade, the school was replaced by the swanky Revenue House, while a Jewish cemetery nearby had also made way for the bustling Novena MRT station.

The rapid transformation of Singapore's streetscape over the past 50 years has been mapped out in a new online portal called One Historical Map by the Singapore Land Authority (SLA).

Also accessible on mobile devices and tablets, the service and app allow users to compare what different parts of the country looked like in 1966, 1975, 1984, 1995, 2007 and the present day.

Launched yesterday, the portal required a team of geospatial application specialists from SLA to stitch together 4,600 old maps.

SLA said it hopes to educate the public, especially the younger generation, about the changes in their neighbourhoods and the country.

SLA chief executive Tan Boon Khai hopes the app will spark interest among the Net-savvy and encourage more inter-generational conversation on heritage.

Users can view mirror images of the older maps against the present-day ones to see the differences between past and present. For instance, a user exploring areas such as Bishan, Sengkang and Changi will get to see how these places started out relatively undeveloped, as kampungs or cemeteries, before evolving into new towns with high-density, high-rise flats.

The portal, supported by the National Heritage Board (NHB), was developed to mark Singapore's Golden Jubilee. A function also allows users to upload photos and information about places, and the NHB has been updating the site with images of buildings.

SLA's principal geospatial consultant Brian Liu said it was challenging to align the images with their modern-day ones as some of the older maps were hand-drawn. He said there are plans to add older maps to the database in the future.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 05, 2015, with the headline 'SLA portal maps past and present'. Print Edition | Subscribe