A week of walking past this building while visiting Singapore left me with two images and my curiosity: What exactly is a 'Jinricksha Station,' and what was it used for?
I now know that the jinricksha, or rickshaw, is a much more recent invention than I had imagined; it was invented in Japan in 1869 and reached Singapore in 1880, where it displaced horse-drawn 'gharries' as the primary means of transportation. By 1883, Singapore had 2,000, by 1893 there were 13,000 and by 1902 there were over 22,000.
British authorities set up licensing and inspection rules, and after a series of temporary accommodations built the Jinricksha Station as headquarters for the administration of license and inspections. It opened in 1902, and served until rickshaws were banned in 1947. By then, they had begun to fade out in favor of three-wheeled trishaws, introduced during Japanese occupation.
After 1947, the building became a family-planning clinic and maternal and childcare center. In 1989, it was sold off to a company that, for a time, operated a seafood restaurant and shops in the building. In 2007, it was sold to movie star Jackie Chan, who is said to be planning a piano bar or offices.