Below is a brief visual history of how the Hong Kong skyline developed over the decades.
1880s – Beginning with a rare shot of the harbour from the 19th century – the same decade in which the Star Ferry became operational.
1900s – Next, a quaint postcard from 1906 (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!)…
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…
1950s-60s – It was not until the tumultuous 1960s that things really began to develop on the booming harbour front. Refugees from China, especially from Shanghai, provided skills and labour, helping to revive the economy. There was unprecedented growth as the city was transformed into a manufacturing hub. Hong Kong made anything-and-everything that could be produced in a small space, such as buttons, artificial flowers, textiles, umbrellas, footwear and plastics.
An iconic building, which today is known as the Bank of China building, makes an appearance replacing the original City Hall…
Click here for footage of the waterfront in 1952.
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…
The MTR system expanded rapidly and the Bank of China Tower was completed in 1989, opening a year later…
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.
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…
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…
Blog posts charting Hong Kong’s colourful past…
- 1000+ ‘Before and After’ Photos of Old & New Hong Kong.
- An Elephant in Kowloon: Photos from Lai Chi Kok Amusement Park.
- Bustling Hong Kong of 1947: Historical Photos from Mark Kauffman.
- Colourised & Restored Photos of Hong Kong 150 Years Ago.
- Cool Vintage Hong Kong Tourism Posters.
- Execution of Namoa Pirates in Kowloon, 1891.
- Hedda Morrison’s Hong Kong: Photos from 1942, Beautifully Restored.
- HK’s Boom Years: The Best of Fan Ho.
- Hong Kong’s Most Offensive Place Names.
- How Hong Kong Was Made: Iconic Buildings Under Construction.
- Mainland Refugees Fleeing Famine Rejected by HK.
- Margaret Thatcher in Hong Kong.
- More Vintage Photos of Old Hong Kong.
- Newly Restored Old Hong Kong Newsreels: Part 1, Refugees.
- Newly Restored Old Hong Kong Newsreels: Part 2.
- Newly Unearthed Photos of 1950s Hong Kong.
- Pictures of Hong Kong in 1972.
- Rare Shots from Inside the Old Kowloon Walled City.
- Shing Mun Redoubt, HK’s Secret WWII Tunnels.
- Street Scenes in Dreamy Colour 1954-2004.
- The ‘Great Chinese Takeaway’ – the 1997 Handover.
- The 1958 Hong Kong Cha Cha Championship Winner (Bruce Lee).
- The 1967 Hong Kong Riots.
- The Bombing of Hong Kong by the U.S. 14th Air Force.
- The Day a Cargo Ship Washed up on Cheung Chau Beach.
- The Hakka Walled Village of Tsang Tai Uk, Sha Tin.
- The Iconic ‘Two Girls’ Kwong Sang Hong Cosmetics Brand.
- The Luxury British Liner at the Bottom of Victoria Harbour.
- Unseen Royal Geographic Photos.
- When the MTR Was New.
Pictorial histories of local landmarks and events…
- A Brief Visual History: HK Police Vehicles & Uniforms.
- A Brief Visual History: HK’s Old Airport, Kai Tak.
- A Brief Visual History: Kowloon Walled City.
- A Brief Visual History: The Evolution of the Hong Kong Skyline.
- A Brief Visual History: The Peak Tram.
- A Brief Visual History: The Peninsula Hotel.
- A Brief Visual History: Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower.
- A Brief Visual History: Yau Ma Tei Theatre.