Located opposite the Old Airport Road Hawker centre, Dakota Crescent stands as one of the oldest, quietest and ultimately most charming of neighbourhoods left in Singapore.
Built in 1958 by the Singapore Improvement Trust (SIT), the name Dakota was derived from the aircraft Dakota DC-3, a common plane that landed at Kallang Airport back when it was in operation from 1937 to 1955. More unfortunately, it may also have been named to commemorate an air disaster on 29 June 1946, when a Dakota aircraft crashed at Kallang Airport, killing all on board.
The Dakota Beauty
Upon stepping into Dakota, one does get a sense that there’s a seemingly unexplainable charm about the area. The vast open spaces are free of unnecessary urban installations, the architecture undoubtedly different thanks to SIT, and the residents, perhaps too old to get around constantly, keep to themselves in houses that have Renaissance like balconies styled to fit a Singaporean’s taste.
In the middle of Dakota Crescent sits one of the last standing old sand playgrounds that we all know and love.
Constructed in the shape of the dove, the playground decked in colour preserving mosaic tiles, a fireman’s pole, tyre swings and open air slides, did get me thinking of how I could maneuver myself to prevent from falling into the ‘shark-infested waters ‘ like I did when I was a kid.
The 14 beautiful white flats here stand no more than 10 storeys tall, with some as low as three. Each building retaining a unique architectural beauty, with some having a disorganised symmetry in the building’s columns, while others have angled open balconies that have retro-fitted doors and grills that probably lasted a couple of generations.
The comfortable open space you see also has to be admired, along with the solace that the area does not contain another coffee place with bad music taste and false vintage furniture marked up for sale.
Cats too have made Dakota their own.
An unconfirmed future
Yet it is this same open space, and the slowly encroaching condominiums sprouting up across the river that leaves one to wonder how long Dakota crescent will stay this way.
The signs aren’t looking good; Dakota Crescenet is neither a conserved site under the Urban Redevelopment Authority, but there are parts of it slated for residential development.