District 12 – Balestier, Serangoon, Toa Payoh
District 12 is an area that is rich in history and which includes the quaint township Toa Payoh New town, the second satellite town in Singapore built by the Housing and Development Board (HDB).
The Toa Payoh Planning Area is an urban planning zone under the Urban Redevelopment Authority which includes Toa Payoh New Town, Potong Pasir and Upper Aljunied. Built in 1970, Toa Payoh New Town conforms to the urban planning principles of that era. The residential area is very self-sufficient with a vibrant town centre to cater to the everyday needs of its residents. The Toa Payoh Town Centre was the first prototype in Singapore.
Besides being a residential and commercial area, Balestier is a historical location with lots of good food. Balestier sits in the central district of Singapore and is quickly accessible to the Serangoon, Novena and Bendemeer districts.
Balestier is named after Joseph Balestier, the first United States Consul of Singapore who lived in Singapore back in the 1800s. Joseph Balestier possessed a 1,000-acre sugarcane plantation known as Balestier Plantation which was located at Balestier Plain. Unfortunately, Balestier was forced to sell off his property after tragedy struck with the passing of his wife and the onslaught of a recession. Balestier then returned to his homeland.
The Toa Payoh Town Centre is lined with many shopping. The mall is L-shaped and there are two plazas. There is a branch library and cinema in the first plaza and an area office and post office in the other plaza. HDB’s headquarters is situated at HDB Hub, a large commercial development which is directly linked to the Toa Payoh MRT Station and accommodates the air conditioned Toa Payoh Bus Interchange. Despite the great demand for housing in the area, the Housing and Development Board allocated a large area to the development of the Toa Payoh Town Garden. The town garden is beautifully landscaped with willows, bamboos and Delonix regia trees. A carp pond with a waterfall and a cluster of islands linked by bridges sit at the centre of the garden. The islands are a sight to behold at night when it is lit. Children can frolic in the playground while parents chat in the designated seating areas. There is an outdoor chessboard, a tea kiosk and a 27-meter high viewing tower.
There are a number of historical sites in the Balestier area. Among them are the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple built in 1847, the art deco shophouses built in 1920s, Sun Yat Sen Nanyang Memorial Hall and the former Shaw Brothers Studio built in 1937 that was used by the Japanese to promote propaganda films during World War II.
Toa Payoh MRT Station and Braddell MRT Station connect District 12 to the rest of Singapore. You can also use the public bus service at the Toa Payoh Bus Interchange.