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Five photographs from Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow

The Straits Times celebrates its 170th anniversary with a showcase of hundreds of photos from its archives. Gwen Pew asks the paper’s photo editor, Stephanie Yeow, to introduce five of her favourites

Singapore STories: Then, Now, Tomorrow is at ArtScience Museum until Oct 4.

Cecil St 1848
1/5

Cecil St 1848

‘This photograph looks like a scene out of a movie set. It presents a slice of Singapore life that we are not accustomed to seeing, with men pushing their carts and trishaws through the flood, people wading through shin-high waters, and cyclists steering through Cecil Street in 1948.’

Chope
Photo: Christopher Loh
2/5

Chope

‘When chope-ing (reserving) was already a way of life, 40 years ago. The aspiration to enrol a child into a good school is not just a modern-day obsession. Back in 1970, it was the same situation when chope-ing was a way to get the child into a school of choice. However, it was on a first-come-first-served basis then, unlike the complicated process it is today. This photo provides a sense of familiarity and comfort in depicting certain practices that do not change over time.’

Void deck
Photo: Alphonsus Chern
3/5

Void deck

‘The photo of two boys kicking a football at a HDB void deck will resonate with most Singaporeans. The void deck is a common space that most Singaporeans are familiar with, and the photographer has managed to capture a fun and carefree moment between two friends, in a well-composed image bathed in beautiful light and shadows.’

Parade
4/5

Parade

‘A boy and girl, illuminated by rim light from the sun, stand on the historic Elgin bridge peering at the contingent of British soldiers marching past on the Queen’s birthday parade in 1952. Behind them is a large billboard advertising what looks like a Chinese product of that era. And in the distance, the magnificent dome of the Supreme Court stands tall. The multi-layered elements come together in this perfectly composed image.’

ST July 15, 1845
5/5

ST July 15, 1845

‘The first Page One of The Straits Times, published on July 15, 1845, is something that we are proud to be associated with, by virtue of the fact that we are part of the same team, 170 years later. It reminds us of our beginnings and how far we’ve come.’

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