Saturday, November 24, 2012

The geographic centre of Singapore.

Do you know where the Geographic Centre of Singapore is?
Frankly, I didn't but I suspected it might be the same as the Geographical Origin of Coordinates of Singapore which I did know about.

The Origin of Coordinates for any country is that point from which all local maps, distances, surveys and longitudes and latitudes are measured from. This point takes its own reference from the Greenwich Observatory in London which is longitude 0, or the prime meridian.

From the late 1800s in colonial times, Singapore's Origin of Coordinates was officially marked as 1°17' 15.528"N and 103°51' 10.808"E. And where exactly in Singapore is this officially confusing and difficult to understand point?

It is the precise spot where the flagstaff of the old Colonial Office of the Surveyor General of Singapore was. This was on top of the Empress Place Building, today called the Asian Civilisation Museum.

The flagstaff can be seen on the extreme right in the above picture.
(Source: National Heritage Board PICAS photo database)

With the heritage conservation of the old Empress Place Building and conversion into the Asian Civilisation Museum, the flagstaff unfortunately was dismantled and its heritage value forgotten.
There is a new flagstaff on the roof at the new entrance to the Museum but this is not the original Origin of Coordinates.

In 2005, with the implementation and widespread acceptance of GPS, the Origin of Coordinates for Singapore was moved to a new spot.
The new ground zero is simply 1 22 00 N, 103 48 00E.
This puts it on a spot at the Upper Pierce Reservoir.
It was done to simplify the coordinates, dropping the confusing seconds and decimals.

The official Origin of Coordinates for Singapore.

Another Milestone
Although map coordinates were zeroed in on the Empress Place Building, the measurement of milestones or distances radiating from the city centre did not begin from Empress Place.
Originally, it began from the entrance of the New Police Station on North Bridge Road.
This Police Station was located opposite St Andrew's Cathedral, beside what is now the Capitol Building.  (The spot where the old National neon sign was - see my friend Lam Chun See's blog here for this old landmark)

When the Police Station became defunct, the Colonial Surveyor General, who had by then moved his office from Empress Place to the new GPO building around 1929, decided that all milestones would from then on radiate from the entrance of the GPO Building and be measured from there.

Today, roads are measured from where it begins and no longer from the GPO.
For example, 10km PIE would be the distance from its start at Changi/ECP.

(Please note: There are varying standards in measurements and GPS so some maps may point to a different coordinate...but that's another story)

1 comment:

  1. Interesting new blog scheme for geographical origin of coordinates of Singapore, James Tann.

    Well done. Thank you for sharing with nostalgia friends and keep up your efforts. Cheers!