I Prime Minister Lee Kwan Yew began the Clean Rivers Project which was initiated by Ministry of Environment in October 1997. It was a $200-million project aimed to decrease the amount of water pollution in Singapore in 10 years time. Tons of rubbish had to be cleared and the whole landscape of the Singapore River was to be changed. 31 August 1983, the last 300 lighters were moved to another location, Pasir Panjang. Those lighters made up the riverscape. The Singapore River became more peaceful and calm.
Way before 1997, the river was a boatyard. The name of this boatyard was Hallpike's Boatyard. The area around the river were always noisy as boats were being repaired there. The noise made was so loud that it could still be heard from the court house which is currently the old Parliament House. This was the reason the court house was moved further down the river. Today, the boatyard no longer exist. The Old Parliament House is now the oldest surviving building in Singapore.
Fort canning hill is part of the landscape of Singapore River for years. In the 1820s, it was believed to be the resting place of Malay kings and many ghosts. Sir Standford Raffles, amazed by this rumor, stayed in a bungalow facing the Singapore River.
Raffles Place is where business houses were set up and became a place of attraction especially to Europeans. Firms from all over the world were set up here. Even famous firms like the large Japanese shipping company Nippon.