While Tiong Bahru was planned with plenty of green spaces between its blocks, there were no initial plans for a landscaped recreational garden. For a time, the area near the Community Centre at Eu Chin Street had, in the 1960s, been planted with various plants and shrubs in the manner of a garden, but it was only in 1972 that a landscaped garden at Seng Poh Road was planned.
The space where Seng Poh Garden is now located was an open grassy area which residents used for their morning exercise and gatherings. Returning to his old estate, Member of Parliament for Tiong Bahru and former resident Ch’ng Jit Koon (b. 1934) was anxious that the estate’s green spaces be given greater prominence. To this end, he asked Sarawak-born sculptor Lim Nang Seng (1916–1987) – who had already established himself as a leading sculptor in Singapore – to do something ‘as soon as possible’.
As Ch’ng’s commission was urgent, Lim chose an abstract form depicting a girl doing a sort of joyful harvest dance. He sculpted the 1.2-metre high sculpture in a car park in Orchard Road and finished it within two weeks. Made of concrete, the sculpture cost less than $2,000 at the time. The Dancing Girl sculpture was unveiled by then Minister for Interior and Defence Lim Kim San (1916–2006). The sculpture drew mixed reactions. Some residents loved it while others thought it too abstract, saying that it looked more like a swan about to take flight. Lim Nang Seng was not upset by these comments, saying that since swans were auspicious birds, it was fine if residents thought that it brought prosperity to the estate. The Garden underwent a $250,000 renovation lasting six months in 2007.