5 things to remember about Dakota Crescent

Block 62 Dakota Crescent, which won the Cleanest Block Competition in Marine Parade Town for two years consecutively. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Block 62 Dakota Crescent, which won the Cleanest Block Competition in Marine Parade Town for two years consecutively. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Residents of Dakota Crescent pitch in to clean the block together in 1995 -- PHOTO: ST FILE
A blue dove playground sits prettily in the quiet Dakota Crescent estate. Designed in-house by HDB and estimated to have been completed in 1959, it has all the elements of an old-fashioned playground: an elevated bridge, sand pit and swings made of rubber tyres. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
Tian Kee provision shop in Dakota Crescent has been turned into a cafe that retains the feel of the old place. -- PHOTO: ST FILE
The former Kallang Airport has been home to the People’s Association (PA) since 1960. -- PHOTO: PEOPLE'S ASSOCIATION
Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT) HDB flats at Dakota Crescent.-- PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER FILE

Bidding farewell to a precious piece of Singapore's history is always difficult.

Dakota Crescent, one of Singapore's oldest public housing estates, will be vacated by the end of 2016 to make way for new developments under Mountbatten's estate renewal plans.

The cosy block of flats just off Old Airport Road has been a sleepy refuge for the Singaporeans who call it home.

We look back at some of the features of Dakota Crescent.

1. Back in the days of the SITC

The 17 low-rise brick-clad flats were built by the Singapore Improvement Trust in the British colonial days of 1958 and handed over to its successor, the Housing Development Board (HDB), in 1960.

There are 648 two and three-room flats, of which only 60 per cent are occupied presently. The flats are mostly occupied by elderly residents and low-income families under HDB's public rental scheme.

2. Origins of its name

The name Dakota was taken from the American transport aircraft Dakota DC-3, which commonly landed at Kallang Airport before it was closed.

It could also have served the purpose of commemorating the aviation disaster of June 29, 1946, when one of the Royal Air Force's Dakota aircraft crashed at Kallang Airport in a thunderstorm, killing all passengers on board.

3. Mama shops of the heartlands

Dakota Crescent houses some of the oldest shops in Singapore, including a traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) shop. Its sole provision shop, Tian Kee & Co, has closed and the space is now occupied by a retro-inspired cafe. The outlet now sells western and old-school pastries.

In recent years, old-fashioned businesses have had to struggle against newer convenience stores and malls springing up around the area. There was also once a market set up in the 1960s opposite the estate.

4. The Old Dove playground

Tucked snugly amid Dakota Crescent's HDB blocks, the Old Dove playground is one of the few nostalgic playgrounds left in Singapore. Though it has aged with time, it is still well-preserved with rubber tyre swings and a slide sitting on a sand pit.

The Old Dove playground was designed by HDB's Mr Khor Ean Ghee in 1979. A few other well-loved iconic playgrounds designed by Mr Khor still stand, such as the Dragon playground in Toa Payoh Lorong 6.

5. Winning the Cleanest Block Competition

The community spirit of the Dakota Crescent residents was displayed in 1995 when many pitched in to clean their HDB blocks by scrubbing the corridors and cleaning out the trash.

Dakota Crescent, along with two other blocks, beat 16 others to bag the gold award for the island-wide Cleanest Block Competition, organised by the People's Action Party Town Councils.

Block 62 also clinched the Cleanest Block Competition in Marine Parade Town for two years consecutively in 1994 and 1995.

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