When I landed in Hong Kong 21 years ago, I assumed I’d find streets like this one.
Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
My mom took this photo in 1962 in Hong Kong’s Central district. Now Pedder Street looks more like New York than a outpost of the British Empire. Gloucester Building and its clock tower are long gone, as are the traffic police and those funky pagodas.
It seems like for every decade of Hong Kong’s rapid development, dozens of colonial buildings have met with the demolition ball.
And now only a dozen or so of these colonial gems remain. The Peninsula Hotel is one, as is the Legislative Council Building. There’s also the former French Mission Building and the Foreign Correspondents’ Club.
The Hong Kong Tourism Board lists others here.
Sure, Hong Kong has witnessed much progress since the 60s, 70s, and 80s, but at what cost?
Alan C L Yu says
Tks for sharing your nice photo reminding us the cruelty of development is demolition. You may be interested to browse the Gwulo Old HK web on Gloucester Bldg Clock Tower with my comments (When I was a copywriter for ad agencies, I always got chances to write on ads for watches like Citizen, Alba, rado, jean Lasale, etc…..My destiny also as a fortune teller based on “bazi” time of our birth):
Gloucester Cake Shop :
I remember when I was young (early 1970s), I visited the building, there was a Gloucester Cake Shop inside. A good memory as I was too poor to buy any cake there. Anyone knows the history of this cake shop? Some Chinese adopted its Chinese name 告羅士打餅店when they emigrated & opened cake shops in Canada or other countries. Another famous cake shop in those days was 紅棉”Hung4 Min4″ (Red Cotton literally meaning the red flower of the cotton tree), perhaps a metaphor to mean the softness of the bread. with one shop perhaps located in Wanchai & another in Kowloon. Near my home at Sai Wan Ho, there was a more “kai-fong” style bakery in the old red-brick Taikoo buildings near the present Tai On Building. One sort of bread selling there was in pistol shape, very attractive to us as little kids (plastic bean pistols were our favourite toys at that time). So big, so soft & delicious at only 10 cents or so. Very creative too. But nowadays breads are small, expensive, sophisticated but not really creative.
Submitted by Alan C L Yu on Wed, 2012-06-20 04:29.
Stuart Chappell says
Its really disappointing that Hong Kong has lost its links with the past, by demolishing so many of its older buildings. The new city has no soul because its history and culture has been removed. The Hong Kong Club Builing in Club Street is a classic example where a total disregard for Hong Kong heritage and building style saw its replacement with a concrete block building. Replacing older building with new ones should reflect the older structure through its design.
Susan Blumberg-Kason says
Thanks so much for your comment! I never saw the Hong Kong Club Building in person, but have enjoyed all the photos and illustrations I’ve seen of it. What a beautiful building. And then there’s the Repulse Bay Hotel, which was demolished but then later reconstructed. You’d think people would have finally learned from that case!