I found this slide in a box marked damaged. So I apologize for the poor quality. But the photo tells so much about Hong Kong in 1962 that I felt like I couldn’t not post it.
My mom took this slide from Tiger Balm Gardens, a popular destination for tourists in Hong Kong back then. (By the time I arrived in Hong Kong, I found the gardens in disrepair, the once vibrant paint faded and chipping away.)
Aw Boon Haw, developer of the all-purpose Tiger Balm, built a villa and gardens in Wan Chai in 1935. After he died in 1954, his Hong Kong villa (along with one storage space in Singapore and Fujian province in China) opened to the public.
The gardens included a Chinese renaissance villa, a seven-story pagoda, and (once) vibrant Chinese mythical sculptures and murals.
In the lower right side of this photo you can see the top of a green roof. But what’s more striking is the hillside in the background. If you look closely, you can see that part of the mountain is practically covered with shanties. These squatter areas were created and settled by refugees from mainland China. Although the Hong Kong government started building public housing estates almost a decade before this photo was taken, they still couldn’t keep up with the continuing influx of refugees in 1962.
The shanties behind Tiger Balm Gardens were cleared decades ago. Tiger Balm Gardens itself is now closed. The gardens have been leveled and the house is up for redevelopment (but not to be torn down).