For many years, Tanjong Pagar, located between the docks and the town, was an enclave for the thousands of Chinese and Indian dock workers who had migrated to Singapore from the mid-19th century. With all the traffic between the docks and the town, Tanjong Pagar was also lucrative ground for rickshaw pullers awaiting clients. So prevalent was their presence that in 1904, the government established a Jinricksha Station at the junction of Tanjong Pagar Road and Neil Road.
From the time the docks began operations in 1864, land values in Tanjong Pagar rose, attracting wealthy Chinese and Arab traders to buy real estate there.
The proliferation of impoverished workers led to overcrowding, pollution and social problems such as opium smoking and prostitution. Tanjong Pagar generally deteriorated into an inner city ghetto. By World War II, Tanjong Pagar was a predominantly working classHokkien area with an Indian minority.
In the mid-1980s, Tanjong Pagar became the first area in Singapore to be gazetted under the government's conservation plan. When the conservation project was completed, many of the area's shophouses were restored to their original appearance. But although a few traces of the old Tanjong Pagar remain — an old swimming pool, the odd street cobbler — the face of Tanjong Pagar has changed. Today, Tanjong Pagar has become a fashionable district, filled with thriving businesses, cafés, bars and restaurants