Located near the busy junction of Yio Chu Kang Road, Upper Serangoon Road and Upper Paya Lebar Road (formerly Paya Lebar Road), it is a place that seems to be frozen in time, with little changes over the decades.
Completed in 1980, Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre was a $20-million project by Hong Huat Development. The sale and lease of its shop units started in 1978, and almost a third of its 400 units were instantly snapped up. One of the shopping centre’s most well-known tenants is probably the evergreen computer shop that sells affordable computer games for almost 20 years.
Today, the shopping centre is like a ghost town, where there are only a few tenants left in the building, which is quite an unusual scenario in a crowded Singapore. The building has been put up for sale, and after three decades, Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre may be finally undergoing a major revamp.
Even during weekends, the shopping mall is deserted with only a couple of shops opened for business.
Just outside the shopping centre, there is a classic old building equipped with spiral staircase.
Check out Time Stands Still at Singapore’s Veteran Shopping Centres for brief summaries of other old shopping centres.
Published: 22 October 2010
Updated: 01 August 2021
A Play Tat I Grew Up With Since Young…There Used To Be An Old Dispensary In Place of The Post Office Opposite It….Decades Back….Ever Since The Dept Store Oriental Emporium…and Later The Game Arcade Moved Out…Tis Place Has Slowly Start to Lose Its Patrons….There Used To B Some Bk Rental Shops Ard In The Late 90s…But Now I’ll Say The Cheap Photocopy Shops Are The Onli Reason I Still Head Back There….
like many others, i was a regular patron of the PC shop in the past…
Hi there, really like reading your posts and pictures on your blog, could I ask if yesterday.sg has linked to your posts before? I lived in Hougang for 20 years of my life, and studied in Zhonghua Secondary School. I used to go to USSC for haircut, uniform, CDs, tamiya model kits and the arcade. Thanks for this post, it sure brought up fond memories.
Nope, yesterday.sg hasn’t linked to my posts before
I have setup this blog just last Oct.. Wished I did it much earlier, several places such as (old) National Library, Tang Dynasty and New 7th Storey Hotel were already gone for good..
Good interesting and informative Site! Keep up the good work! Will return back again. Check out my site too! http://singaporeitinerary.blogspot.com ! Cheers!
I used to get my cross-stitch threads from a shop there!
I finished my schooling at St Josephs Convent in Hillside Drive in 1967 and the bus stop was on the same side of the post office. I remember going to Ban Cheong Jewellers with my Mum across Yio Chu Kang Road, from memory. Those were the good old days, which Paya Lebar will not see again
Jennifer Sheffield (nee Pereira)
The Tailor Shop Bside The Shopping Centre Gone Liao….
In a crowded Singapore, almost all shopping malls are full of people except this…
Sad to see it in such state
Point to note… that the interior design of the Upper Serangoon Shopping Center is almost similar to City Plaza in Geylang…and the facade is also semblance of Katong Shopping Centre
I remembered the scary tattoo shop at 2nd level, always pass by on our way to the uniform shop, n there’s this bright linkway.. n the arcade on the top floor, opposite arcade got photocopying shop.. downstairs got book shop and cafeteria that my grandma would bring me there for breakfast.. Mini carousel that my cousins n mi always love to ride.. Chinese herbal shop near the staircase at 2nd level.. Outside just beside the mattress shop is this forever changing club, always so scared to walk past at night.. But still, so many fond memories!! Thanks for this post.. 🙂
I used to work at the amusement arcade cum billiards saloon. Met a lot of friends, knew a lot of wierd characters good and bad.
Sadly, even the ah bengs also avoid this place nowadays… haha 😀
I used to work at the billard saloon “Potblack” too…. had an Indian colleague then who can speak mandarin like a chinese. Played there often with my frens and followed by the motorcycle racing game at the arcade one level down.
The sales girl of the boutique shop “Sweet Sugar” was the belle of the building then.
Hi, perhaps you might consider writing on the Katong Shopping Complex? I guess both are around the same type of era build?
Thanks, will definitely do that in the coming future..
The old malls such as Katong Shopping Centre was built in 1973, Queensway Shopping Centre in 1976 and Bukit Timah Shopping Centre in 1978.
The reason I chose to write about Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre first was because after so many decades, the others are still buzzing with good businesses but USSC is already like a ghost town.
Quite sad to see it in current state actually, but that’s the way of life..
More on the old shopping centres in Singapore:
Ah that place, I remember back when I was in Secondary School I used to go to the arcade there after school. Back then there were no restrictions on uniforms. And facing the arcade was a shop where we could buy console games or even rent a game for 1 hour. There was also a Manga shop on the ground floor or I should say Man Hua shop. And yes, I think ‘Ah Lim’ is still. Should visit when I have the time.
my ex-girlfriend and i used to haunt USSC to get textbooks or Maths homeworks photocopied at a shop done by a bunch of bored ah huays and ah lians, after that we’d walk around and gawk at the local people having a blast. That ex-girlfriend? yeah she’s my wife now….!
thank you for the write up! its great to see these sites and places as we no longer reside in sgp, now we have been apprised the place is called a Ponding Island?
I have very fond memories of Hainan Garden 海南园 and Choa Chu Kang, hopefully you or some of your readers will be able to post some good old pictures and stories on your website.
I used to study in Sin Min (thank god it is being preserved, now occupy by NGO The Helping Hand), and used to visit 星光戏院 and the polyclinic which was just across the Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre. Further up is a big square just behind the now defunct 光洋中学 which housed I think was 光华戏院. I have lots of good fond memories there. It was almost a dead town there when I visited that place a few weeks ago compared to hustling and bustling place a few decades before.
I bought my first used car from the company known as Leco motors here many many years ago.
They were located on the ground floor. When the boss’s wife strike it reach in a mutilmillion toto draw, they bought their own place at the grand used car mart at Ubi. They are still there today
Hi there, should do up an entry on Beauty World Shopping Centre before they do any revamp to it, since MRT lines will go through that area in future… There’s also a hawker centre located at the top floor of the mall. Don’t forget to pay the toilets a visit, classic stainless steel urinal trough!
My growing up years from 60’s, 70’s, early 80’s… what a wonderful place to grow up in upper serangoon.. between “ougang” 5th mile and 6th Mile….u had mix of middle class, kampongs with duck and chicken farms… and mangrove swamp at Jalan payoh Lai – tampines … great food all around… the Best wanton mee was a push cart cantonese guy who will push his cart from Silat Road to, Hillside drive, sometimes park it along Highland road.. in front of the huge properties along Highland road.. OH what a great Era… with estates having durian trees… waiting to run into the property at night to pick the fallen fruits…. hahahhahah… great times… and the 60’s Firecrackers during Chinese new year… brillaant…. times… then we kids will ride our bicycles to either kangar or pungool end… or take one of the those buses .. the yellow bus to go to pungool end…. oh how “romantic”…. and we had the complete mix of races….flying kite.. playing
‘kuti-kuti”…. 🙂 OH what a time…
I would like to use your comment as an anecdote at a school’s heritage gallery that I am setting up about the Aukang area.
Would you kindly give me the permission?
Hi there, Yes sure… hope you have fun working on the project!
Nothing was as happy as those times in early 80s when my mom and dad brought me to ussc to celebrate dad’s payday. It was huge then… At least for me! On the way back, will stop by the durian stall opposite ussc, then wait for my uncle (uncle rahim aka aim) who sells the mee rebus to come back hillside drive village and we get to eat all the leftovers for the day. Then to the wet market every sun and i would wait and grumble for my mom and auntie to finish their groceries. Question: was the crocodile farm just further up the road really had huge crocodiles? I never had a chance to go there. Wish i had! Thanks for the memories
I think the crocodile farm at Upper Serangoon is around: http://www.singaporecrocfarm.com/Main.html
Shall check it out one of these days
The crocodile farm at Upper Serangoon has shut down already:
I rmbr in the early 80s, USSC used to be very crowded, dad used to bring me there when there is artiste performaning or signing record at level 1 .. rmbr that one of the old taiwanese Hokkien singer “Someone surname HONG Rong something” performed before. . and of course the old clinic opps USSC.. rmbr while sitting on the wooden chair waiting for my turn at level 2.. kinda of miss it. . happen to past by last week and pop into USSC.. is really bad..thanks for bring back the memories !
I am ‘relatively’ new to this part of Singapore, only shifted to Sengkang some years ago. It is pretty quiet now, esp on Sunday. The only crowded place is Nature Vegetarian Delights on the 4th floor. The good Teochew restaurant Frgrant Garden also shifted there recently due to the cheaper rent.
Hope to see Savoy cinema and boonlay shopping center in here
Thank you for writing this, your blog is a wonderful effort! USSC used to be bustling until they demolished the shophouses along Upp Serangoon for the mrt line, along with my friend’s parents’ tailoring shop =( yes those were the same kind of spiraling stairs we played on! Shophouses had a dispensary, old fashioned bakery shop, motor shop, small kopitiam I remember the building had a date on it like built in 1920s-30s…
Top floor: arcade Paco fun world , video rental shop, photocopy shop, uniform shop, a smaller cafeteria
3rd floor: another photocopy shop, malay & chinese barber shops near the bridge entrance, massage parlour/ foot reflexology or maybe a tattoo parlour, auntie clothes shop
2nd floor (ground floor): konica/kodak film processing, medical shop, florist, posb bank, manga comics shop, bookworm gift and stationery, 2nd hand bookshop, shoe shop, auntie clothes shop
1st floor basement: ktv club, a snack shop selling the most delicious banana crisps I’ve ever eaten!, wagon type shop in the open space selling books and stationery, another shoe shop
Outside: goldsmith, after that it was taken over by a mattress shop.
Wow! you must be once a regular to USSC 🙂
I have to admit I’d only visited it less than a dozen times in the past 20 years
Hi, is the video rental shop on the 3rd or 4th or 5th storey [shop owner is an old uncle] still around?
That video stall is long long gone. I remember the old uncle and his wife. I remember he had a competitor on the bottom floor renting out laser discs!
there used to be a “Emporium” there. Dont know if it was “Oriental”. Also a large kiddy rides outlet. Went there a few times with my then young children. Today I think the most outstanding shop there is a 3-unit reflexology shop on the 2nd storey. The boss is a Chinawoman who is married to a local guy who is a widower. She is quite pretty and a very amicable person thats why she is able to expand from one unit to three units. Just before you rush there, she doesn’t do much work these days. ONly her staff. Thks for the momories!
We hope to gather friends, fans and folks who’ve got memories of Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre to join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Upper-Serangoon-Shopping-Centre/407016879360953. The place is going through yet another round of collective sale, not sure if this time will be a success, so we hope to help remember USSC while its still as it is now.
Used to go there regularly with my father for haircuts. There was Pink Panther and later Red panther hair saloon. Incidentally I was wondering if anyone has photos and points to share about the 2 cinemas that was around the vicinity of the mall namely Kok Wah Theatre and Mercury Theatre. In fact further down the road was Empire Theatre at Lowland Road. These really brings back wonderful memories. Yes I do recall going to the Oriental Emporium there as well.
Was quite a sickly child, more often than not, my parents will bring me there for TCM tui na at the 4th floor by a chinese physician (Dr Mai) whom later moved her clinic to Lorong Lew Lian.
While waiting for my turn, would usually get to the uncle’s (Ah Lim) evergreen game shop at the corner to browse through the magazine and games on sale. Many years later, my family actually moved to block 161 which is just a stone throw away from USSC but never frequent that place like before. It really brings back many memories….
Used to buy tapes and cd from a shop name song ching in uscc
I used to live at Surin Avenue at Charlton Park (my mum et al still do) and I remember when USSC was built in the 70’s – but I never spent a lot of time hanging around there. The area itself was pretty interesting. The bakery – you’d get fresh bread and the old man would trim the burnt bits and give you a loaf of freshly made, lovely tasting bread….and the old Chinese laundry where I used to get my army uniform starched and pressed (78-81) – at the row of shophouses just after the Crocodile Farm (my late dad would always say we should go – but we never did) but before the USSC. St. Gabriel’s used to be just across from the Caltex station (my mum tried to convince me to go there, but I was a true-blue St. Andrews boy already by then) and there was a Chinese school down towards 6th mile. Can’t remember the name but the Helping Hand’s furniture outlet is there now.
There was a Kenndy fastfood, many school girls were going there after school ,can you remembered?
Hey hi there …..I used to frequent a coffee shop that would open at 3 in the morning in at the old 2 storey shophouses opposite the road (along Upper Serangoon Road) , during my police days. Just next to the where the old Lim Tua Tow market used to be.
There was an elderly chinese lady that sold the most amazing prawn mee there. When the place got demolised , I lost touch with her. This was back around 1995. This is a long shot , but does anyone know if she is still around plying her trade in a nearby premises ?
Wow… I was waitering in the snack bar, B-one, during school vacation in the 80s.
Fell in love with a pug puppy sold in the pet shop in USSC, and blew my pay on that cutie.
Yes, a place of students, businesses and delinquents.
Bye bye Singapore.
I remember visiting this place once ever in 2000 thereabouts. Before that, it was famous or infamous for the pirated software. People I know would talk about it.
When I visited the place, the software piracy was either gone or winding down then. I wonder as to a history of the place.
When was the heydays? Was it ever crowded and popular? And what sort of shops were there? When was it first opened?
Pirated software very common in 2000 and earlier (I still vividly remember pirated Diablo 2 selling for $20 at a Yishun Ring Road pasar malam in 2000), then started dying afterwards when broadband Internet and cheap disc burners became mainstream. The last shop I saw was 2004 in Chong Pang City.
I stay around the area, and visited that place rather frequently when I was younger. There used to be a laser disc shop that my dad would rent laser discs from every alternate weekend, and he used to buy me computer games from a shop from the 4th floor called Micro Games, if I did not remember wrongly. The guy there wore specs and the games were in diskettes then, and even the manuals were all photocopied in A4 sized and then folded in half.
There was also another game shop that was more popular but never frequented. That’s the stall I believe was the more popular tenant then. There was also a tattoo shop, I believe was called Steven Tattoo or something? Was quite popular for the dragon designs, which was why so many colourful characters normally hanged out there, with the billiard saloon on the top floor.
It was also a place where you got your school uniforms on the 1st or 2nd floor. I also used to frequent a mobile phone repair/modification store on the 3rd floor, when pagers and Ericsson 388 and 688 were all in the rage. They used to do all the cool mods like chrome housings and loud UFO mods with LED antennas. What memories…
On the first floor they also had a cafeteria place, which I had the western food before. Food there was so-so, but they’re no longer there. They used to have kiddy rides there as well, an at one point a inflatable type kiddy castle or something. There’s also a shop that sells flowers and accessories, and they seem to be the only busy people working there now along with the photocopy place that is still there.
The place, as my friend and I say, still smells the same from the late 80s. It has this smell that when you enter, time stands still and for a split second, you go back to whatever age you remember that place for and memories flood you. I’m very surprised the place still exists for what it is today, and I wonder to myself how long more will the place stand as it is. This place has really stood still in time.
There is also a Wet Market/Hawker centre opposite the Serangoon Shopping main entrance in the eighties. Quite miss those days..
The name called Lim Tua Tow Market.
I used to follow my mum there to buy fresh meat and vegetables there and having breakfast.
The ground level sells fresh meat and vegetables and the upper level is hawker centre.
I remember buying some of my first generation Star Wars figures at Oriental Emporium 🙂
One day after coming back from school, I had a heated quarrel with my parents. I ran away from home to USSC hoping to see if i can find my friend whom i know liked to visit the computer game shops at USSC. I found him there! We married later and for 17 years now. Last year during the August festival at the temple opposite USSC, we brought 4 of our kids to tour the temple and then to USSC. It really brought back lots of happy memories as my hub went to look for the owner of the game shop at Lvl 4, I think. The owner still looked very much the same, but probably more prosperous than before. It was like a tearful reunion for them after almost 2 decades we have not been there.
In upper serangoon shopping centre, there was a well furnished shop over-flowing with rolls of chinese paintings. With a bit of patience and seeking of appreciation from the distinguished old man owning the shop, the discerning eye or listening ear could come out with surprising treasures. Now the mall is rolling itself up, like a painting weary of sunstrokes. Souvenirs linger on.
He’s My Dear Elder Brother.
Computex Computer services! 4th floor iirc, used to buy Chinese RPG games and gudiebooks from there. Friendly uncle
My dad still get this hair cut at Red Panther by Mr Ali till now.. After all these years
It’s fun reading all the comments about Upper Serangoon Shopping Centre. Now I know why I am so fascinated with it and its history as well. I’ll go take a visit every now and then, since I stay along Kovan Road which happens to be nearby. 🙂
Now it is left with few massage parlours and beauty saloons…
I notice there are some new shops open there. There is a t-shirt printing shop with quite a good variety of shirts to choose. My husband order some shirts for his company staff. The shirts turned out great. Really miss the good old days.
A place I remember very much…I used to live there upstairs on 1992.There was several rooms for rent.I have lived with friends from various countries.
I always past by this shopping centre but never walked inside at all. I go to Nex shopping mall often. After which I saw your blog about 2 weeks ago from this post. I actually went there twice and looked around. Yes it is indeed an old shopping centre. They lost the crowds there too but its worth visiting to look at how modern Singapore was before. Thank you for sharing!
What happened to Ricky’s tailor
It’s used to have a tailor shop on the 4th
Floor during the 9o’s
Computex and the owner still there as of Feb 2019.
Anyone here remembers Texas Fried Chicken outlet in USSC in the basement?
Also along Upp Serangoon Road, opposite Mercury Theatre was a Neo Clan Building that was several storeys high, had a dentist and other shops. At night, the parking lot became a hawker food centre with 4 stalls. IIRC, a Chinese satay stall, Fish Porridge, Ngo Hiang, Teochew muay and a hokkien mee squat outlet that was not even a stall.
The famous Nam Sing Hokkien Mee now in Old Airport Rd started from this roadside stall.
Used to play truant and hang out at USSC often. Had haircuts at Pink Panther and Red Panther. Also bought lots of cassettes from a shop at level 2 and stamps from the shop at the basement.
Yes, pink panter for hair cut. but never never go the toilet beside pink panter….