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Before Singapore reclaimed a large swathe of its coastline in the 1960s, the houses of Katong, along what is now Marine Parade Road, were the shorefront properties of the well-heeled. Today, they retain their laid-back, beachfront atmosphere, with palm trees lining the street and plenty of open sky – a very rare commodity in Singapore.

Katong was once coconut and cotton plantations, owned by the likes of Chinese self-made philanthropist Chew Joo Chiat, who the area’s cultural core is named after. In the 1900s, wealthy Chinese, Malays, Eurasians and…



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