Then vs Now: 10 iconic Singapore landmarks that didn’t exist before 2009

While Marina Bay Sands is arguably the most iconic part of Singapore’s skyline today, the famous integrated resort is just nine years old.
Facebook/Marina Bay Sands

Singapore’s changed a lot in the past decade. So much so, it’s easy to forget that many of our now-iconic landmarks didn’t exist just a decade ago.

With National Day almost upon us, Business Insider rounded up 10 beloved spots for a before and after comparison of how the past 10 years has changed the cityscape.

Get ready for a blast into the (not-so-distant) past:


#1: The oldest building on this list, luxury mall Ion Orchard, was built in 2009.

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It’s just turned 10 years old.
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Facebook/Ion Orchard

Before that, the spot was simply a patch of green grass. People born before the ’90s will remember the carnivals that used to be held there.

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The grassy patch (bottom left) in this photo from year 2000 is where the mall sits today.
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The Straits Times

#2: In 2010, Marina Bay Sands and the Helix bridge were unveiled.

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The ArtScience Museum quickly followed in 2011.
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Facebook/Marina Bay Sands

These icons are such a key part of Singapore, few recall the old Marina Bay area looking like this:

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Land reclamation had already begun since 1977.
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Facebook/Urban Redevelopment Authority

#3: Next up: Resorts World Sentosa – whose attractions, including Universal Studios and Adventure Cove, are a favorite among families.

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Universal Studios Singapore opened its doors in 2011, while Adventure Cove Waterpark and the S.E.A. Aquarium opened in 2012.
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Visit Singapore website

Here’s what a typical visit to Sentosa would have yielded in 2008: clear views of beaches and the Merlion.

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Also: the Underwater World Singapore, if you were lucky.
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Flickr/Joost Rooijmans

#4: In 2012, the Marina Bay area opened another smash hit: Gardens by the Bay.

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Tourists and locals alike flocked to photograph the unique silhouettes of the two conservatories and the Supertree Grove.
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Facebook/Gardens by the Bay

Way before that, the area was just a triangle-shaped piece of reclaimed land sticking out from the city centre.

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When you visit the Gardens today, you’re standing on what used to be the sea.
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Facebook/Urban Redevelopment Authority

#5: The River Safari was added to the trio of wildlife parks in Mandai in 2013.

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Visitors got the chance to see pandas and manatees up close.
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The Straits Times

But before being developed, the area was nothing but forest flanking the Central Catchment Nature Reserve.

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Pictured is the forested area near Mandai Lake Road.
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The Straits Times

#6: Since being built in 2013, Parkroyal on Pickering has swept up numerous awards, including the title of the World’s Best Green Hotel.

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The eco-friendly hotel is tropical architecture at its best.
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The Straits Times

But much like Ion Orchard, the acclaimed hotel began life as a grass patch.

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It sat at the junction of New Bridge Road and Upper Pickering Street.
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Skyscrapercity.com forum/Spirit

#7: The super-Instagrammable Library@Orchard is a top destination for book lovers across Singapore.

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It’s housed in Orchard Gateway, which opened its doors in 2014.
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Facebook/Library at Orchard

But some may recall the old library, which used to be housed in Ngee Ann City.

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It closed its doors for the last time in 2007.
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The Straits Times

#8: 2015 brought with it the National Gallery, which saw the former Supreme Court and City Hall buildings merged into one structure.

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We admit: it’s technically not a new building, but two refurbished old ones combined.
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The Straits Times

Here’s what the old buildings looked like before the renovation.

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There was a road between the buildings where new indoor link bridges now stand.
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The Straits Times

 #9: Singapore’s tallest building, Guoco Tower, broke height records in 2016.

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Its penthouse – the most expensive condominium ever sold in Singapore – is currently home to billionaire James Dyson, who bought it in 2019.
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Facebook/Guoco Tower

Even before the 290-metre high skyscraper was built, Tanjong Pagar was already full of tall buildings.

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The Tanjong Pagar district in 2010.
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The Straits Times

#10: The youngest attraction to this stable is the spanking new Jewel Changi Airport, which attracted worldwide attention when it was unveiled.

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Thousands rushed to visit on opening day.
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The Straits Times

Let’s not forget that the mall – with its breathtaking waterfall and forest valley – used to be the Terminal 1 carpark.

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Started from the bottom now we here.
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Singapore Press Holdings

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