Okay, I’m officially obsessed with the Sun Ya Hotel. I found these two photos, one from 1961, a year before my mom stayed there, and the other from 1966. Even back then, Nathan Road was hopping with street and sidewalk traffic.
A document published in 1961 by the Hong Kong Government Information Services had this to say about Hong Kong traffic, shown in these photos of the Sun Ya:
The volume of traffic on the roads of the British Crown Colony of Hong Kong is now three times greater than anywhere else in the world. Latest figures show that 50,000 vehicles are using the Colony’s 510 miles of roads. This works out at 98 vehicles to every mile of road compared with 30 per mile in the United Kingdom, 22 per mile in West Germany, 20 per mile in the U.S.A. and 12 per mile in France.
And traffic density in the Colony is increasing rapidly, with more than 7,000 new vehicles coming onto the roads every year. If the rate of increase continues–and it probably will because the economy of the Colony is expanding rapidly–the vehicles total will pass 100,000 before the end of 1967.
This photo [left] shows Nathan Road, Kowloon, at 7:30 p.m. Because there are many entertainment and shopping attractions in Kowloon, peak traffic comes after dark and consequently is more difficult to handle.
The government’s prediction came true. By 1966, Mongkok had 156 vehicles per mile. Another document published in 1966 by the Hong Kong Government Information Services describes photo on the right.
To give him a certain amount of protection from the weather–and from the traffic!–the traffic policeman in Hong Kong usually stands on a so-called pagoda, a stoutly-constructed platform made of iron, roofed and railed and lit at night. From this vantage point he is able to control traffic approaching from four directions. What is equally important, he is able to control the pedestrians, who may approach from any direction.
This picture [right] shows a traffic policeman on his pagoda on Nathan Road, Kowloon. It is thanks to men such as he, tirelessly directing the never-ending columns of vehicles of all kinds, that Hong Kong’s traffic keeps moving at all.