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Des Voeux Road, c.1890 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
Des Voeux Road, c.1890 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
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Can You Recognise Hong Kong from these Old Pictures?

Picture of Sally Gao
Updated: 12 June 2017
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, Hong Kong looked very different to today. Then under British rule, the territory was dotted with Victorian and Edwardian colonial buildings that are now mostly gone. Another fascinating point of comparison is Victoria Harbour, which has narrowed considerably thanks to a series of land reclamation projects over multiple decades. This collection of “then and now” photos highlights some of those changes.

Victoria Harbour c.1899

Back then, the harbour was much wider and the Kowloon waterfront was still undeveloped. The major buildings on the Central harbour front at the turn of the last century include (from left) the Queen’s Building, the first generation Prince’s Building, the second generation Hong Kong Club Building, and the Chinese Export and Import Bank. All of these structures have since been demolished.

Victoria Harbour c.1899 | Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Harbour c.1899 | Wikimedia Commons

Victoria Harbour today

Victoria Harbour| © Herry Lawford/Flickr
Victoria Harbour | © Herry Lawford/Flickr

Victoria Harbor #2 c.1920

Taken from the other side of the harbour, these photos show the transformation of the Hong Kong Island waterfront.

Victoria Harbour c. 1920| Wikimedia Commons
Victoria Harbour c. 1920 | Wikimedia Commons
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Victoria Harbour #2 today

Victoria Harbour| © TheOldhiro/Shutterstock

Victoria Harbour| © TheOldhiro/Shutterstock

Victoria Harbour, Hong Kong

Causeway Bay c.1869-1900

In the early 19th century, the heart of present day Causeway Bay was known as East Point. Much of the land was owned by the trading firm Jardine Matheson. Today, Causeway Bay is a major shopping district and one of the world’s most expensive places to rent retail space.

East Point, 1869-1900| The National Archives UK/Flickr
East Point, 1869-1900 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
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Kowloon City c. 1898

Kowloon City is one of the oldest districts in Hong Kong. It included the notorious Kowloon Walled City, which was demolished and turned into a park in the early 1990s. Until 1998, a building height restriction was imposed the district due to the presence of the now-defunct Kai Tak Airport.

Kowloon City, 1898 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
Kowloon City, 1898 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
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Kowloon City today

Kowloon City | © Wing1990hk/Wikimedia Commons

Kowloon City | © Wing1990hk/Wikimedia Commons

Tsim Sha Tsui Clock Tower c. 1914

This 1914 photo shows the former Kowloon Station, a red brick building that served as the southern terminus of the Kowloon-Canton Railway (KCR) network. Today, all that remains of the station is the 44 metre (144 ft) Clock Tower, now a major Hong Kong landmark located next to the Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier.

Kowloon Station and Clock Tower | Wikimedia Commons
Kowloon Station and Clock Tower | Wikimedia Commons
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Central and Western District Harbourfront c.1869

The Hong Kong Island coastline has shifted dramatically northwards, thanks to reclamation projects beginning in the late 19th century. The development of the island also expanded east over the decades.

Central and Western District Harbourfront today

Hong Kong Island's skyline | © momo/Flickr
Hong Kong Island’s skyline | © momo/Flickr

Des Voeux Road, c.1890

One of the earliest reclamation projects of Hong Kong Island’s north shore was completed in 1873, bringing the coastline up to present day Des Voeux Road. Further reclamation projects beginning in 1890 added even more land to the waterfront, obscuring Des Voeux Road from the coast.

Des Voeux Road, c.1890 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
Des Voeux Road, c.1890 | The National Archives UK/Flickr
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Des Voeux Road today

Des Voeux Road | © J Aaron Farr/Flickr

Des Voeux Road | © J Aaron Farr/Flickr

Connaught Road, Central c.1920

Connaught Road, a major thoroughfare in the Central and Western District, was constructed during the second Praya Reclamation Scheme in 1890. In the 1920s, Connaught Road was lined with docked ferries and boats. Later reclamation projects pushed the Central waterfront out even further north.

Connaught Road, Central c.1920 | Wikimedia Commons
Connaught Road, Central c.1920 | Wikimedia Commons
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