Monday, September 30, 2019

The Names of Singapore's Streets

In 2013 Noah Veltman released an interactive map which explored the History of San Francisco Place Names. The map explained the meaning behind every San Francisco street name. This fascinating map began something of a trend for people and organizations mapping the meanings behind street names in cities around the world.

Since then there have been far too many interactive maps of street names to list them all. However I have to mention Zeit's incredible analysis of 450,000 German street names. I also have to mention  the amazing ongoing project of Geochicas, Las Calles de las Mujeres, which maps out streets named for men and women in a number of Latin American and Spanish cities.

The latest map to explore the meanings of city street names comes from Singapore's Straits Times. The names of Singapore's streets reveal the influences of both its British colonial past and the influences of the cultures of China, India and Malay. As you scroll through On a little street in Singapore … A road map of history, culture and society an interactive map continually updates to highlight the different influences in the names of the city's streets.

Around a quarter of Singapore's streets are named in English and around a quarter of these are named for British towns, cities or landmarks. The historical center of Singapore is almost completely dominated by streets with these English names.

More than 800 of Singapore's streets have been named for men. Only 41 of the city's streets are named for women. Those women are mostly wives or royalty. An interactive chart organizes all the streets named for people into different categories, such as politicians, royalty and businessmen. At the end of the article is a drop-down menu which allows you to select from 150 of Singapore's streets to discover the meaning of individual street names.

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