• HISTORY – Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline – a Visual History

    Date: 2012.10.17 | Category: Architecture & Infrastructure, Blog, History & Abandoned HK | Tags: ,,

    As HK comes tops again in a ‘World’s Greatest Skyline‘ list, we present a brief visual history of how the Hong Kong harbour developed below. Check out other architectural entries on the blog here.

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    Pre-1869 painting via RGS-IBG image / E. L. Watling

    1880s - Beginning with a rare shot of the Fragrant Harbour from the 19th century – the same decade in which the Star Ferry became operational.

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    via New York Times

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    1890, click to enlarge

    1900s - Next, a quaint postcard from 1906 (via gwulo.com)…


    via gwulo.com

    1910s – The CBD, gradually creeping up The Peak, was then named Victoria City. There was no light show back then (but click here for a photo of the harbour at night, some 106 years ago!)…

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    1920s-30s - Development was minimal throughout the 20s and 30s. The original HSBC building, completed in 1936, became the centrepiece of the skyline (click here for a close-up shot) – it featured a mixed Art Deco and Stripped Classical style and was the first to feature full air-conditioning…

    via gwulo.com

    via gwulo.com

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    via thecorner.org


    1928, via samcpherson.homestead.com

    The Battle of Hong Kong was waged in 1941 (click here for aerial pictures of the bombardment).

    1950s-60s - It was not until the tumultuous 1960s that things really began to develop on the booming harbour front…

    Skills and capital brought by refugees of Mainland China, especially from Shanghai, along with a vast pool of cheap labour helped revive the economy. At the same time, many foreign firms relocated their offices from Shanghai to Hong Kong. Enjoying unprecedented growth, Hong Kong transformed from a territory of entrepôt trade to one of industry and manufacturing. The early industrial centres, where many of the workers spent the majority of their days, turned out anything that could be produced with small space from buttonsartificial flowersumbrellastextileenamelwarefootwear to plastics.

    Large squatter camps developed throughout the territory providing homes for the massive and growing number of immigrants. The camps, however, posed a fire and health hazard, leading to disasters like the Shek Kip Mei fire. Governor Alexander Grantham responded with a “multi storey buildings” plan as a standard. It was the beginning of the high rise buildings.  - wikipedia

    An iconic building, which today is known as the Bank of China building, makes an appearance replacing the original City Hall…

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    Click here for footage of the waterfront in 1952.

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    1970s-80s -  In the 70s and 80s, land reclamation began in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay and Jardine House (completed in 1976) became an iconic symbol of HK.

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    In 1972, the first cross-harbour tunnel opened, linking the peninsula to HK Island. During the same year, a British luxury liner sank in the harbour (click here for pictures and a video of the incident.)

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    In 1975, the Bank of America Tower was completed. 2-years later, on Kowloon-side, the TST KCR station was dismantled, leaving only the Clock Tower…

    Click here for a detailed visual history of the TST Clock Tower.

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    In 1979, the Prince of Wales Building (currently the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Forces Hong Kong Building) opened whilst the city’s first circular building, the Hopewell Centre, came online in 1980…

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    The MTR system expanded rapidly and the Bank of China Tower was completed in 1989, opening a year later…

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    1990s - The mid-levels escalator was completed in 1993 and helped open up new areas in Central. The new decade also gave rise to the new Standard Chartered building in 1990 and Central Plaza in 1992.  The Cheung Kong Center opened in 1999.

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    via Flickr

    2000s - The 88-storey IFC2 opened in 2003 and the Wanchai Exhibition Centre was fully completed in 2005. By now, despite the efforts of The Antiquities and Monuments Board, few vestiges of colonial heritage remained.

    Today, 45 buildings now take part in the nightly Symphony of Lights - the world’s largest light and sound show…

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    IFC2 has since been eclipsed by the 118 storey International Commerce Centre in West Kowloon, which was topped-out in 2010 and remains the tallest skyscraper in Hong Kong.

    The map below from the Hong Kong History Museum shows just how much of the harbour has been reclaimed. Areas in light blue show Victoria Harbour today…

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    via Flickr

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    via Wikimedia, click to enlarge


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